Pretty As A Picture
Years ago, I had an artist friend, Ernie, who owed me a favor for something. I don’t remember what the favor was, and it really isn’t important so forget it.
This friend was very talented and was trained in portraits by a Master (whatever that is, that was his claim). He offered to do a portrait of my daughter who was probably 7 at the time.
I had a favorite picture of my daughter, one taken on her first day of kindergarten, and I gave it to Ernie. I planned to surprise my wife with a nice portrait of Mary Beth.
When it was done, I loved that portrait. I thought it captured the five-year-old I knew, un-scrubbed, innocent and cheery, on a special day.
When I surprised my wife with the portrait, she was not as happy.
Of course, wife number one was never happy with anything she did not pick out herself and even then, she generally would find a flaw and return her choice several times…suffice it to say she found fault with everything…always. She was livid I used THAT picture.
My daughters first day of kindergarten was the day after my youngest (at the time) son’s birth. Needless to say, Mom was not present for this momentous first day and Dad was not aware of the importance of the first-day-of school picture. Mary Beth was clean, but her hair was not neatly brushed and she was sent off to school in a pull-over tee shirty-thing, not her fancy Sunday best.
Too me she was the perfect little Kindergartner, not dressed to the nines, but natural and cute as a button. Apparently my wife saw it differently. She was angry that I didn’t know the importance of the first day picture. I screwed up and sent Mary Beth off to school like a normal kid, not a Sears Catalog kid.
The portrait only served to renew her anger.
Her unhappiness stole the joy I had with this portrait, but eventually she allowed it to be displayed in the house.
When we divorced, the picture was one of the items she demanded. Because she knew I liked it? Probably. Anyway, I was forced to ship it to the UK, her new home at the time (long story), along with several other items.
Some weeks later I received a call from the shipping destination in the UK asking when the items would be picked up. There had been a huge fight over these items and I eventually shipped them at some expense and under protest. There was a tax upon receipt in the UK, I may have overvalued the shipment out of spite. I told the caller, I had no idea and I didn’t care.
I don’t know if she ever picked up the items including the picture, and if she did I don’t know whatever happened to the portrait.
Maybe my daughter has it? Mary Beth?
Anyway, I loved that portrait. It captured an un-scrubbed little five-year-old looking happy and natural, and thinking about it reminds me that losing a wife who never seemed to be satisfied with anything was not such a bad thing.