Mom hated this painting with a passion. I can't blame her. Her wrinkles were there to see. But Jon and I both loved it because her joie de vivre was equally visible. She had a tremendous sense of humour, though no ability to tell a joke, usually working backwards from the punchline ("Bill - what was that joke about Pope Sicola?"); her merriment was shared with a legion of friends. Jon adored her and happily called her "Mary Jane," her mother's name, rather than "Stella," which she disliked. Her paintings were signed "Stelle."
Mom and Dad were deeply in love, and set an example of what marriage should be. Less and less a conventional wife, she volunteered with church work until at first painting called her, and then a degree in art history. She lapped up her English and art history courses. However, no science student she, it took the whole family to get her through the astronomy course which she chose as her final degree requirement; Mom thought it would be about planets and possibly predictive hints and was horrified to find mathematics at play. Jon sent her a series of helpful notes deciphering powers of ten and so on but nothing stuck. We were pretty sure that it was a mercy pass, gratefully accepted. She was radiant at convocation, and I treasure the photo of her in her mortarboard, saucily tipped to one side.
This painting celebrates her 80th birthday, four years later; Dad had died six years earlier and life never again had the same savour but she did find joy in our family. Jewell and Mom were besotted with one another, often sitting and simply gazing into one another's eyes; when Mom died, our wee girl was sitting in her lap; Jewell remained there for some time.
The prairie roses are blooming now and I remember how lucky I was. Her example of how to laugh easily and long remains one of the most precious gifts she shared with her grateful daughter.