Last week George sat at the dining room table and created a black-ink-and-colored-pencil birthday card for his mom. When I glanced over his shoulder at the lettering and layout, a whole herd of good memories stampeded through my brain.
Way back when, George used to draw and paint a lot. Mostly ink and watercolor or ink and pencil. Some of his art was realistic, but much of it appeared to be the results of a pent-up, whimsical imagination bursting the dam and overflowing onto a page. Lots of pictorial metaphor interspersed with indefinable images that seemed to dance to a music all their own. Poetry in pictures.
He’s much more reserved these days. But in the margin beside his beautifully lettered birthday greetings, I spotted what looked sort of like a pedestal–except it was tiny at the bottom and wide at the top. A vase-trumpet-cannon thingie rose out of it, facing straight up. From its opening shot stars, squiggly lines, and lightening bolts. It was very signature George in style. I pointed at the sketch and smiled.
“That?” He seemed a bit embarrassed. “It’s a doodle.”
“I love it,” I said. “You know, our kids really didn’t stand a chance. They had to be weird.”
“That’s not such a bad thing.”
“Oh, no! It’s not a bad thing at all. I think it’s wonderful!”
As much as I loved the doodle, the portraits he drew of me, Jacob, and himself were even more priceless. He practiced them on a separate sheet first. The basic sketches were stick figures, but he gave them unique features. “Yours gets a cute button nose and knobby knees,” he said. Stick legs with knobby knees? It was a little scary how much she looked like me.
But the funniest one was his self-portrait. “I think I’ll give myself a square head.” He drew the practice sketch, and we both laughed.
“It works,” I said.
“I’m gonna use it.”
The final drawing on the card depicted three entirely recognizable Damoffs in stick-figure form. If you ask me, that takes talent. Especially when one of them has a square head.
Some folks may wonder why I write stories like this in my journal. I think I do it mostly because I want to remember the simple reasons why I love the people in my life. There will always be a plethora of reasons to feel sad or frustrated or angry, so I like to hang on to the moments that bring simple, unalloyed joy.
Yeah, and just so I don’t forget, I read this phrase in Job 30:4 a couple of days ago. ” . . . And whose food is the root of the broom shrub.” Read that out loud a couple of times, and see if you don’t want to get up and dance. I think I could live off a diet of words and chocolate.
And the occasional doodle.