Friday, October 30, 2009

Tribute: Human Nature as a 'Work-in-Progress'

For the past two weeks much of my focus has been on other than my drawing, rightfully so. Several days ago we lost a vital member of my extended family.

Doris Van Wagner was one of the most creative persons I have ever known: not only in regard to her designing, quilt-making, painting, and crafting, but simply in the way she executed her life. She was young, very young; only forty-seven years old -- and for the past twelve years she fought a tremendously courageous battle with illness. One could say she lost her battle with cancer -- or because of the type of person she was, one could say that she ultimately won her battle with life.

So as is my nature I have engaged in a tremendous amount of introspection as of late. I cannot adequately put into words how much it meant to me to be able to spend time in her home, with her immediate family and close friends, during the last couple weeks of Doris's life. I've given a great deal of thought to what I've learned (and relearned) from my cousins Doris and Tommy, as well as strong bonds created with other family members during this process. Though some of these principles may seem simple and obvious, here is much of what Doris and this experience has left to me.

1) Try to remember that we never know what is going to happen, or when. What is, or what we think may be, can all change tomorrow.

2) Really cherish whom and what you cherish: not only in thought and feelings, but through actions as well. Do not let time pass without letting others know how important they are to you.

3) Dare to be an emotionally strong person. When life calls on you with its toughest challenges -- even if you think you simply cannot handle it -- do it anyway. You can handle it.

4) Be as honest as you can with others, without causing harm. Speak gently. Do not speak ill of others.

5) Identify those things that you are passionate about, and pursue them with vigor. Work hard to develop them, even if it means doing things that you are afraid to do. Take risk, after risk, after risk. Fear subsides when it is faced head-on. What pulls at your soul?......Do not pretend it does not exist.

6) Life is too short and too precious to allow ourselves to be worn down by negative persons and experiences. Do not allow your soul to be sacrificed in this way. Take care of yourself; even if this requires you to have the courage to make tough decisions.

7) Do not be angry; and if you are, don't hang onto it unduly.

8) Forgive others whenever possible. Remember that someday you may need someone to forgive you.

Thanks for reading.


  1. A beautiful post Lynda. I am so sorry for your loss. I completely agree with your introspective thoughts. These 'how to live life' reminders are the gifts we can receive from such tragedies - if we are open to receiving them. Obviously you are. Thank you for sharing. We all need reminding from time to time. Again, you have my deepest sympathies.

  2. That was beautiful Lynda. My mom was a very special person and I miss her very very much. Tommy and the rest of our family were really thankful for your love and support during this whole process. Even though she wasn't talking the last few days, I know she knew you were there with her and heard everything you talked to her about. I'm glad she had the chance to get to know you over the years and had a positive influence on your life (like many others). Love you and see you soon,


  3. Thank you for sharing your lessons learned Lynda. They are very true. I'm sorry for your loss, but happy for your blessings.

  4. What a moving post Lynda. Such strong feelings are conjured up by reading it, and I plan to re-read it several times. I know you are going through a lot right now, and send you lots of strenth and love.

  5. Teresa, Beth, and Debbi; Thank you for your comments and your friendship. So many of us are fortunate indeed to have found one another through our art - and we share so much in common besides that.

    And Kelly.....honey, you have nearly left me speechless. I can say this though: you possess so many of her strengths, and this is one of the ways in which she will continue to be with us.

  6. So thoughtful and thought provoking, Lynda. I'm always amazed and thankful for your open heart.

  7. very well said, Lynda.
    Great post. I really like how your horse piece is coming along. and the post there also.
    Well done.

  8. Thankyou Dee: I too, am grateful for YOU..........your passion for life, and the way you live with such consciousness and sense of purpose. I admire you.

    Gary, I must tell you since I know you are a painter.........I ONLY draw, and yesterday I tried painting for the first time in nearly forty years. ACK! What an amusing disaster! Now I am even more impressed by you painters! Anyway, I hope things are coming along for you and that you are feeling well. Nice to hear from you.

  9. Your thoughts are very true. Please accept my sympathies for losing your relative at such a young age.

  10. Thank you for your kind words, Barb. Sometimes, as is human-nature I guess, certain 'life principles' become remote -- not something I consciously think about -- until something happens that forces me to think about them........ Hoping everything is going well with your family.