Henry Memorial Project 2021-12-21

I am days away from Christmas and I can feel the pull of the holidays on my heart and mind. The fun part I am enjoying about grief is that for a little while here I seem to be mostly focused on the positive memories with my dad. I can’t say I was good at that while he was living, something I could take myself down memory lane, but it was more me taking an evaluation of all times I preserved that he wasn’t the greatest father. That was never fun for either of us.

Since meeting with Charles and leaving the items I have started to document the process to really grab hold of the moments meaning for me so I can add the story into the history of the painting.

I have thought of a few more things that are missing from the collection of items I dropped off. I am going to be visiting my father’s grave at Camp Ripley Cemetery and Charles’s studio isn’t far from there, so it is time to dive back into the mount of memorabilia and treasures I have stored at my house and find these last few items. I didn’t want to just surprise Charles with the items, so I sent him an email. He had an update on his progress.

He has located the 24×30 cherry wood panel he will be painting in. He used to get them from out East and he was able to find it from a local hardwood company. It seems like a small thing and yet it adds more meaning to the project. My dad was a big supporter from local small businesses. His favorite store was L & M Supply which was headquartered out of Grand Rapids. He was a small-town farm boy and he always had that connection to people and local merchants. My dad was also a huge lover of different types of trees. In his yard he had planted so many different types of trees from around the state and he loved having so many varieties so a nice cherry panel from a local guy sounds like the perfect place to place this project. As Henry would say, “That will be a solid foundation you can build on.”

Charles also mentioned that he has slowly been clearing away the space in the studio to place all of these items. It is not a simple thing, he is not going to do this from a photo. The items will be there for months, in just the right location, to get just the right amount of balance between light and shadows. It isn’t his only project, he needs to plan where it will live for the next year or more. It is an interesting thought to think that these items, this small memorial to my father, will just sit and be observed by one person for a year. I also know that Charles recently read a book about a local man’s experience in Vietnam. It is a very candid and frank account of his experience there and coming home. That kind of research into the subject he is going to paint is normal for Charles and it is part of what he loves about what he does. I know this because you can see his face light up with as he shares some of the new nuggets of history he has mined from a recent tour, book, meeting or call. How else to tell someone’s story on one little sheet of wood.

Working on this project continues to feel like a loving goodbye and farewell to my father and friend Henry. It is one final way I can share his story and pass it on to the next generation. It is a tale of love, struggle, sacrifice, fear, loyalty and independence. I believe it is the story of many of our soldiers, the very people that fight for our freedom and safety every day. The unsung heroes of this world.