“Sunflowers” 1888, by Vincent van Gogh
Being with Georgette #5
The tempest had passed, and Georgette had finally gone outside to air her grievances to her sunflowers. She always says they listen better than I do.
The rain had not yet stopped, but it had slackened to a drizzle.
I hesitated before entering her studio, but someone had to face it sooner or later, so I went in.
Canvases were torn and strewn about the room. Paint brushes were broken into two and sometimes three pieces. Paint oozed from crushed tubes.
One painting remained intact. On the easel was my favorite so far, the one with the dog under the tree by the lake.
A palette with fresh globs of paint remained untouched on the table by the easel.
The rest of the room was in shambles.
You need to make her clean it herself. You need to hold her accountable for her actions.
But she is not a child. She is who she always has been, and you’ve always accepted every part of who she is. You believe in grace and mercy and compassion.
I began cleaning the room.
I started by scooping what paint I could into small plastic containers. I lined them up neatly and evenly on the table next to the palette, which I then cleaned so it would be ready for the next session.
I stacked up the broken frames and stretchers, and I rolled up the torn canvases. Georgette could decide what to do with them tomorrow.
When the studio was functional once more, I went to the kitchen to start dinner, but I stopped when I looked out the window and saw Georgette tending her flowers in her glistening rain jacket.
By now even the drizzle had stopped.
I went outside.
“I cleaned it all up,” I said.
Georgette froze. Then she turned and looked at my wet tennis shoes. I was sure she would tell me I should be wearing my garden shoes outside in the wet. She always does.
“You frightened me,” she said.
“I thought you would have heard the door slam.”
“No, I mean before.”
“I don’t handle those situations very well,” I said.
“You never have.”
Georgette looked at her sunflowers for reassurance. They had grown to her shoulders.
She said, “What about the one with the dog under the tree by the lake?”
She said, “It’s my favorite.”
I nodded. I said, “I’m hungry. I’ll go make dinner.”
Georgette said, “You won’t forget?”
“Why would I forget? I’ll go in right now and get started.”
Georgette looked at me funny.
“I promise,” I said.
“I’ll be in shortly,” she said.
Just before I reached the back steps, a break in the clouds let the sunshine fall on my face. The joy of small comforts.
I closed my eyes and looked up and smiled back at the sun.
I could have stood there for hours, but I had work to do.
I took off my damp shoes and put on my slippers.
From the hallway, my eyes fell on the painting of the dog under the tree by the lake, and the leaves of the tree needed a little more green.
I entered my studio and found she had already cleaned it for me. She must have done it while I was outside blowing off steam. I decided to accept it as a gesture of her remorse.
Small plastic containers of spilled paint sat neatly and evenly next to the clean palette on the table beside the easel.
She always had a good heart. Just requires a little patience now and then.
I found a broken but functional paint brush and set about fixing the green in the foliage of the tree.
The back door slammed and I could hear Georgette in the mud room noisily shuffling off her rain jacket and garden shoes.
I hoped she would like the changes to the painting, but I didn’t want her to see it until I was finished.
When I could feel her standing in the doorway looking at my back–trying to look at the painting–I didn’t turn around. It’s a little game we always play.
Finally, she gave in and said, “I’ll make dinner.”
“Thank you,” I said. “I’m hungry.”
Then I quickly turned around and said, “Georgette.”
She looked at my feet and I was suddenly aware that I was wearing my garden shoes and not my slippers. I was sure she would tell me I should not be wearing my garden shoes in the house. She always does.
Georgette said, “What?”
I said, “I forgive you.”
At moments like these, I just can’t describe to you the kinds of looks Georgette can give me. A photo would never do justice to the array of emotions that flit and surge and rage across her face one after the other and all at once. If only I could paint quickly enough and with enough skill, you could see for yourself what a magical being has captured my heart.