The Best of Him Comes to My House


December 16th 2023

Nearing the end of the craziest two weeks the painting comes home for Christmas and to start the New Year. Not on just any day, but the day that we place live pine Christmas wreaths at the grave sites of the thousands of US Veterans laid to rest at the Minnesota State Veteran’s Cemetery Little Falls.
I did it last year and now it is becoming a tradition. This year is different, it is raining. For Minnesota, it is an odd day of rain and temperatures in the upper 30s.

Charles Kapsner’s studio sits just miles north of the cemetery and he too is planning to be at the wreath laying opening ceremony and event. With the weather so good and the roads so clear and safe, it is an easy uneventful drive to the studio before we go to the cemetery.

The studio smells as it always does of so many smells you don’t normally get- a sweet and bitter combo from the turpentine used to clean the brushes. The painting is ready for travel, all wrapped up in bubble wrap and tape.
It has recently been up to Duluth to his professional scanners and printers. They have scanned all of Charles’ work for many years and they do such a good job. He informs me that the person doing the scanning of the Best of Him painting took the time to go on the website and read up on the journey of the painting, checked out the photos, and watched some of the videos. They were very moved by the story and journey that we took with the creation of this art. That is amazing to me that someone would take the time to do that. I am honored.

After some chatting about the scanning, I get to see one of the first giclee prints. I can’t explain the feeling I had looking at a copy of it on the easel. It was a mix of beauty, surprise, shock, and humility. I couldn’t believe that something I played a part in was worth making copies of. It was kind of incredible really, not something I expected, but really something I appreciated. We stood and admired the copy for a bit and then talked about the new art that Charles is creating. He has two new bigger projects, one of them being the ceiling in his own house. That project is a fun one.

Well, the time came to load up the painting in the back of my car. It is so big that we had to lay all of the back seats down for it to fit.

There was a feeling of peace, thinking that for a while it would be home with us for me to enjoy. Charles and I did talk about it being entered into a show, but the timing wasn’t good, as he has an upcoming show in the cities this spring and we both would like it to be there as well.

The painting rested in the cool air in the back of the car while we placed wreaths at the cemetery. When we got home, we gently brought it into the house and rested it on the floor near its hanging location. Soon to be a fixture on the wall.
I plan to unwrap it and hang it, with a strong hanger, by the first of the year.

With the holidays on us, my grief comes in smaller waves this year. It is more of a yearning for a phone call, a chance to hear him laugh again. When making plans, I don’t have to make sure there is time to drive up and see him. This year more than the past couple I can feel the best of him that is missing from my life, and I grieve that.

Here’s to the holidays and the people we miss. TAPS has taught me that you can have many emotions all at once. And right now, I am happy and sad all at the same time and that’s just fine.

Welcome home, to The Best of Him