When it comes to family, we all know that we would go to the ends of the earth to make them happy. I am lucky enough to say that I’ve experienced this kind of love through different branches of my family. I had a normal childhood with a loving mother and father who divorced when I was in the fourth grade but that never stopped them from making sure that I was happy and learned from any experience I encountered.
Most kids learn their valuable life lessons from their mother and father and they become the two most influential figures in a kid’s life. I had those two influential figures and two more that I could lean on for anything and everything. When my dad left, my aunt and grandmother and mom became the three musketeers and did everything together. A weekly routine developed where I would see them two or three times during the week and everyday over the weekend. The Sunday ritual became my mom and I going to church and then taking McDonald’s breakfast out to their house. Then the week would always finish with a Sunday dinner. I didn’t notice until I was out of high school but I essentially had three strong mother figures who molded me and pushed me to never give up; no matter how tough life got.
Over the years and countless memories, the four of us developed a relationship that gives the word “family” a bigger meaning. So when my grandmother unexpectedly passed away two years ago, our world was turned upside down. The leader of the group was suddenly gone and our lives were drastically changed. The words “life goes on” seem so simple until you have to act upon those words.
My mom and aunt were always close because of their sisterly bond, so when they had to pick themselves up and go on with their lives, they did it together. Since my grandma was the rock for them to lean on and she is now gone, they became each others support system. So when the time came to find something to occupy their time, they found an escape at the Sanctuary. What started as a Saturday out and about turned into their Saturday routine of hanging out at the Sanctuary for five or six hours.
What I thought was going to be a two or three-time adventure soon became their new Saturday ritual. The hole that was left from my grandma’s passing was quickly turned into a new found love of art and connecting with new people. I can’t forget to mention the first time they met THE Nancy Noel that they both came home all giddy and on cloud nine. I believe one of them said that they were never going to wash the hand that Nancy touched but that is a story for another day.
All jokes aside, we hear about people finding joy in many different ways. When my grandmother was alive they found joy in each other and the time and experiences they spent together but now they have found a new kind of love. We’ve all heard of things speaking to people in various ways, and the art on the walls spoke to them in more ways than one. They couldn’t speak to their mother anymore but that didn’t mean they couldn’t connect with her.
I remember my mother telling me that when they walked into the Sanctuary for the first time that she felt completely at peace. Whether it was the environment she was in, or the paintings on the wall; she was happy. That is the ultimate goal in life, right? Not long after they started to visit the Sanctuary religiously they became friends with the ladies working there. I guess when you’re there from open to close, you engage in conversation and build relationships. My mother and aunt aren’t hard people to talk to either. So when I heard that they had befriended Jane and Kathy who worked there, I felt a joy similar to my mom’s when she walked into the Sanctuary for the first time. After the dramatic event that they had gone through, I was overjoyed to hear that they were finding so much joy during a dark time.
So as the months go on I start to notice that every wall at my mom’s and aunt’s house were slowly filling with Noel paintings. They weren’t just any paintings though, because the connection that they felt with the paintings went beyond them just being material possessions. Their love for Nancy’s art and passion could be compared to a teacher loving her students. None of them are the same, and they all have a different story to tell but they care for them equally.
I have three Nancy Noel paintings in my apartment and needless to say that my mom and aunt did the decorating. Their joy for Nancy’s art has carried over to me. The simplicity and joy in her work is relatable to anyone and everyone. You have to look beyond the frame and canvas to see the true beauty in the brush strokes. Once you do that, the true meaning of the art will stand out to you.