On the Value of Visible Ghosts
A confession: I am a raging sentimentalist. I also have an exceptionally capable memory for visual images and patterns; and if you combine the two, you end up with someone who can’t bear to throw anything away. If you’re of that persuasion and you live in a small house, you end up as an episode of Hoarders. If you have access to a much larger space – like the Coppervale Studio – you end up founding something like the Huntington Library. Hopefully.
When I first moved into the Studio, it had been taken over by the people who held the pink slip, after they forced out the previous occupant, who had left the place pretty trashed. We came in with a sheriff’s deputy, a locksmith, and a friend who recorded everything on a videocamera. It was pretty much a mess from end to end: it was stripped, missing doors and fuses, and light fixtures. The roof was caving in. Walls were about to start crumbling. Everything would have to be repaired, or replaced, or built up again, while doing all the work I needed to do that was paying for it all to begin with.
My first memories of attending church and Sunday school are in this building. It is an historic place in this community, and I have many fond memories of the ghosts who still reside here – but one, a relatively recent one, holds sway.
In my private office, which was once a library (and once was the space above the pulpit decades earlier), there is a beautiful round window. On the first day I claimed this place as my Studio, I placed my then three-year-old daughter in the window, and she put her hands on the glass. They left visible prints.
It has been eleven years since that day, and every so often, in the right light, I can still see the handprints of the sweet child who is now a much older, much taller, beautiful young woman. And I am reminded of the reasons I do so many of the things I do, for the benefit of the people I love.
The memories of my childhood are very meaningful to me, and drive much of what I do. And among the goals I have are making the childhood of my children as meaningful as possible for them, by being an example to them, and teaching them, and giving them opportunities to pursue their own dreams, and to value the time I have with them.
The time goes by so quickly. Events happen in instants. But memories brought on by the still-visible ghosts can last forever, and inform all our choices in the future.