Wednesday, October 25, 2017


I feel it absolutely necessary to break here in my posts devoted to the art of portraiture. Perhaps... it is not a total departure because the post represents a portrait of sorts of my daughter Allison's life. Friday, October  20th, 2017 marked what would have been her thirty-eighth birthday.

Our family and a few special friends close to Allie visited  the site of a young ginkgo tree planted in her memory on the shore of Lake Ontario directly across the road from the Kingston General Hospital. Ironically, it can be seen from the very window where Allison received all of her chemotherapy. I could almost see her irreverent and defiant "finger" gesture to Mr. C (as she defied his presence in her body and life). It seemed an entirely appropriate site to honor her life and passing.

Each of us tied a purple bow (her favourite color) to the tree. Joan, her Mom added a special poem plasticised for protection against the weather at the base of the tree. I added a number of naturally occuring stone hearts that I collected... to maintain a ritual I always practised when I came to visit her. Deb tied on two small silver hearts further up the tree.

It was a simple ... yet moving gathering. It was a bitter-sweet mixture of tears and laughter- the very stuff of Allison's unique character. Her presence often oscillated continuously between ribald humour... to serious conversation and then back without warning to unbridled laughter and joy. Her spiritual presence in the group was manifested by a seemingly curious and determined monarch butterfly who seeemed intent upon being a part of our gathering.

It circled the tree several times... disppeared momentarily and then rejoined us out of no where. Strangely... that butterfly appeared twice more as we walked the block to get into our van. Then... without hestitation... it disappeared. On several more occasions while I conduct my nightly walk about along the Parkway... I have been joined by monarch butterflies. But that's just me being a romantic... EH???

I (choose to) wonder...

We met as a group afterward at Allie's favourite brunch joint... the fabulously delish "Toast and Jam". There... the mood swung into similar tenor that would have been present with Allie holding court. It was a fine and fitting end to our celebration of her special day. I felt my Self in her presence... and sensed her joyful spirit... that we remembered her... together!

The plaque says everything...

 Ginkgo... bedecked in purple... Allie's fav color

I find hearts wherever I go... and bring them to live in Allie's Garden of Love... here at the River

Grief is such a faceless thief. It sneaks up on you... even out of a crowd and tries to defeat you. Finding strength and warm memories from the simple joys of life that abound in each of our "ordinary" lives can set you free. Free to remember what death cannot rob you of... ever. Memories of loving ... and living moments with your loved one.

Rich blessings to ALL!!

Allison in Rome... 2016. A full life... Breadth over brevity!


  1. What a wonderful day it must have been, and what memories! I, too, am aware of magical thinking, but surely that single monarch was hanging around for some reason unknown to all but her? Oh, well. We soothe ourselves and we know that memories are the place our loved ones walk when they no longer walk beside us. Sending you oceans of purple :)

  2. Good morning Rhonda!... Thank you for visiting and for again leaving your own encouraging and valuable insights and sharings. They always offer continued hope that people who truly share the same passion for making visual art actually exist... and continue to see Blogger as the useful connecting tool that it is... and to use it as such.

    At the end of a journey of any kind... only the memories gathered along the way and the on-going "magical thinking" that only they can conjur up remain. The sharing of them soothes and extends the presence of a loved one... at least in spirit. What else can we hope for?

    Thank you again for your gifts and presence Rhonda. Both mean a great deal to me personally.

    Rich blessings... and continued Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  3. I can see and feel the beauty of this special day brought to us by your words and photos. Yet I feel sad. The butterfly so delicate was like a perfect light in the world Bruce.

  4. Good evening Lass!... Thank you for visiting and your thoughtful, supportive comments. Yes... there is much lingering sadness and I know that it will travel with me and revisit me throughout the remainder of my life.

    However... I hang onto and celebrate the memories that Allie and I shared in life. One thing that we both shared was the freedom and the joy we both felt in sharing the beauty of this world that we discovered with those we met.

    Her gift was her elegance of language expression, her teaching and her passion for Venetian architecture and culture. Mine is the creation of visual expression and imagery of the places I visit and record.

    We both have lived lives with fullest purpose and passion. No regrets... either of us. Breadth not brevity marks the truest measure of one's life. In the words of the late frontman Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip in his last solo album... just released:

    "What you do is you." This small gingko tree tribute speaks volumes about Allison's journey and legacy that she has created and leaves us. I am proud ... and greatly blessed for the time we shared...

    Thanks for dropping in Caroline... it means a great deal to me.
    Warmest regards,

  5. An beautiful tree for a memorial and a beautiful post Bruce. I too would be thinking about the symbolism in the butterfly and would take comfort in it.

  6. Good morning Lisa!... Thank you for taking time to read and respond to my post in such a sensitive and caring way.

    We artist kind... are always looking "beyond the page" for further meaning... before it is even turned. Symbolism infers deeper thought that provides deeper meaning... for those who seek it out!

    I see that in your work and process Lisa! Good Painting!

    Warmest regards and Blessings!