My dad’s art went through a number of phases. In the last ten years or so, I would judge his health by his willingness to draw. We could never get him to draw in the nursing home or even in the few months he spent in Hospice Care at the VA in 2016. But, there was a period of time in 2014 where he was drawing a lot. I believe that was the year that he was still pretty mobile and had people helping him (IHSS) sent by the wonderful Seniors at Home from Jewish Family and Children’s Services. Suzanne M. managed his case, but more importantly, Suzanne was my dad’s friend.
In 2014, my dad started experimenting with collages, so I am sure the missing piece to this drawing is cut up in another piece of his art. I am not sure why he decided to draw on cardboard – it might have been the most available writing surface or it might be because he saw something about collage on some program on TV, but a lot of the cartoons we have around that time were all on cardboard drawn with pen and filled in with watercolors. I loved how my dad would always insert his characters (often self-portraits) into the picture. This one didn’t have a caption, but I wonder what he would have written.
I think that is the thing about the death of a loved one. There are so many questions you wished you asked that you didn’t even know you wanted the information until it was too late. For me, it was what was I like as a child? Where did Nanny and Grampy meet? They are simple questions, not the more troubling ones – why did you feel the need to self-medicate for so much of your life? Why were you not responsible enough to take care of your children? Why wouldn’t you even try to create even when you were in pain? I felt that these were unfair questions that I am not sure he even knew the answers to them.
So I am left wondering – where were the ducks flying to? And where were they taking you?