I know this man.
He’s older now, but I’d recognize his proud walk anywhere; his old-fashioned cap, his slightly short pants. I bet that when you look at him, you cannot guess he is an artist. Yes, an artist. Not the kind you’d think, but nonetheless.
Every summer, while a child, my mom would get a knock at the door.
“Mornin’, ma’am! Any jobs for me this year?”
And like that, he’d become part of my family for a month or so. Every day, he’d varnish the mahogany beams of our ceiling with the same care you’d caress a baby.
I’d observe him from behind a door, wondering what hidden pleasure he derived from his steady, repetitive work. Sometimes I’d catch him singing softly, almost as if cooing the beams with every brushstroke.
Back and forth.
Soothing and hypnotizing.
One day, I gathered the courage to ask him, “Why do you do this? Don’t you want to do something else?”
He looked down, eyes twinkling.
“No, Susie, I don’t. I’m an artist. These walls and ceilings talk to me. They have a story to tell and need me to help them tell it.”
I never doubted him, but it was much later that I came to understand him: It was passion that made his work a work of art.
P.S. The first time I saw this picture on the blog, I immediately thought of the painter on which this little vignette of a story is inspired. He really would show up every summer to paint our ceiling, and was a lovely man who looked very much like this one in the photograph…
Story by Susana