Tonight my mom's best friend Carmen passed away after a battle with liver cancer. I didn't know her very well, but the few times I met her it was evident what it was about her person that resonated so strongly with my mom. They met thru a real estate transaction when my mom sold her a building a handful of years ago. This very unassuming, humbly dressed, down to earth woman shook the very foundations of everything my mother believed to be associated with wealthy people. Surely they all drive luxury cars and wear designer clothing right? I mean, what's the point of having all that cash if not to lavishly spend it on completely unnecessary things?
Here's what I know about Carmen. She came from Peru I don't know how many years ago, didn't speak the language (still could barely speak it), and with her siblings opened up a restaurant in NY. That one restaurant led to about two others being opened, all with some of the most authentic latin cuisine that money could buy. This lady, born into a very poor, antiquated world where women were meant to stay at home, take care of the house, and please their men, defied the rules and customs of her people and became a very successful entrepreneur. Despite the terrible drama that unfolded with a divorce from a man who doesn't deserve to be treated better than a cold-blooded murderer, she held her head up high with only the well-being of her three children on her mind. That, and money never got to her head. She had it, but didn't need to show it. She was a perfect model for the kind of person my mother wanted to be, and I'm thankful everyday for the friendship that existed between the two.
My mom's not one to keep many close friends and a lot of times they turn out not being very much in the way of friends anyhow. Money leads to greed leads to jealousy leads to friend infidelity. So for her to have someone who just loved to sit and chat about anything and everything, never cared for gossip or bullshit, and truly loved life and her family, it made her very happy. She was a different person with Carmen. In her last weeks alive my mom spent a lot of time with her, helping her sister take care of her and just spending quality time with her friend. She never let her sickness bring others down, always preferring to keep it to herself. Yesterday the three of them spent the day outside picnicking while it was gorgeous. And today, Carmen left the world surrounded by the people she most cherished. So now all that is left are the fond memories that her family, friends, and my mother have with her.
And it is because of this event that I write this post. Life is too short to worry about silly things like artifice and wealth. Too many people seem to think that material things leads to happiness. There are far more important things that we are blessed to have, and in reality is all we need. Love, above all, is what drives me to be who I am and is the reason why I have a sunny disposition. Believe in whatever deity you wish. Hell, you can be an atheist, it doesn't really matter. But as long as love exists, I think anything can be overcome and life be much happier. Carmen gave a lot of love, and even with the wealth she had she never lost sight of where she came from and who she was.
We should all take time to just appreciate and love the life we live, the people we know, and the things we already do have. We are richer than we think when we're able to really prioritize what is important. Don't let little obstacles stop you from pursuing your dreams, anything is possible if you love yourself and really want it. And with that, I wish you all a lot of love and good night.
RIP Carmen... Gracias por la amistad que le diste a mi mama. Por gracias de ti, ella hoy en dia es una persona mejor y mas fuerte. Y puedes descansar sabiendo que tu familia te quiere muchisimo y que siempre te extrañara. Yo se que mi mejor amigo Danny esta arriba con usted, cuidandolo a nosotros. Descanse en paz!
Friday, September 17, 2010
A shot of my studio as it looks now, with a big peg board installed on the far wall. Helps me work on multiple images at a time, thus freeing up both my easels and my drafting table for other works. Plus it covers up that gawd awful green! The rest of the images are things I've been working on for the past two days. Its been an incredibly productive 48 hours. The nude with the pink galxyish swirly stuff behind her is 23x23, oil on Strathmore 500 and will be my submission for the Tata Gala, hopefully it gets in! I've included the finished drawing and some progress shots of the oil painting itself. The galaxy I did Wednesday morning after rewatching Donato's instructional DVD. Love that man! And the nude back is a restarted painting. If you look on my studio wall you can see the original one started from life. I took photos to finish it at home and while working on it I found so many horrifying errors and the way I was painting didn't allow for easy corrections, so I scrapped it and started over. I drew it out on illustration board and started the oil painting Thursday evening. Enjoy!