Flowers for Janice - the Story Behind the Painting
Who is Janice? Good question...Janice is my mother, and she was always very much like a flower. She was born in the Spring, late Spring, when the blooms appear glorious, fully upright and abundant in beauty and grace.
But, aren't they so fragile too, the flowers? One big storm blows them to pieces. A drought can burn them out. A freeze can damage them terribly. Then the flower appears destroyed, damaged beyond repair, hopeless. That was my mom - strong, intelligent, made beautiful by the Creator God. But over time, the bad weather of life in the world tore at her, and she was badly damaged. Sadly, she became addicted to drugs and alcohol.
One day, when my mom was older, but not that old - she asked me to paint her a painting. She was very specific about it. She wanted flowers - lovely, colorful flowers on a canvas that was wide, but not tall, and horizontal, because she wanted to hang it over the dresser across from her bed. So, I painted a 24 x 36 inch canvas with the vivid floral hues that make my heart sing in the Spring. A cheerful blue pot overflows with blossoms and rests on a glass table which subtly reflects its bright and beautiful colors. A garden bursting with wild, riotously blooming flowers surrounds it.
And I loved it, so I put it in a gallery show at The Arts Center, where I was a resident artist. My mom came to visit during the show. She saw the paintings I had hanging there, all of them. And she did not recognize her painting. Of course, it wasn't named "Flowers for Janice" yet. But, still...no recognition, no sign that it registered at all with her. I thought it was the drugs, the many, many prescription drugs she was taking. And maybe it was, but I think now that she was dying. We just didn't know it.
So, when the art show was over, I wrapped it up, drove it down to Hilton Head, and gave it to her for Christmas that year. It was an amazing Christmas in many ways. My mom unwrapped the painting. She absolutely loved it, but she didn't remember it. My youngest daughter, the singer, sang her grandmother a beautiful song. And my mom wept, because she was so happy that day.
One month later, my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor and lung cancer. Her mind was deeply affected. She was forgetful and confused all the time, but somehow she remembered to hang her painting across from her bed. She died two months later. On her last day here on this earth, her children and grandchildren stood around her bed under those glorious flowers, praying and speaking words of hope from Scripture as my youngest daughter sang her home to Jesus. She was sixty-nine years old, and it was the first day of Spring.