I never realized how much I missed my grandfather until I came across artifacts from his life. I called him Dziedz and he a special person in my life. When my mom went to work at school (before I went to school), he would take care of me with my grandmother. He taught me about birdwatching and came up with drawing exercises that made me think.
He would draw a line with a dip in it. I would turn his line into a complete drawing. Dziedz was patient and gentle. He had cancer for a good part of my life and lost his eyesight over time. When he was blind, he would still examine my drawings and somehow managed to point out parts that he liked. Maybe he could sense the emotions that went into the piece.
He died of cancer my senior year of college, shortly after my mom was diagnosed with cancer. When he died, my mom gave me his SU sweatshirt. He wore it in support of the college that I attended. It is a comfortable zip-up hoodie. When I first received it, there were still tissues in the pocket. Remnants from his life. I wish that I had saved them sometimes.
Yesterday, I came across his pastels. My grandmother had given me some of his old canvases and drawing supplies. I have the crayons and markers from our childhood drawing exercises and the sketchbooks with the drawings in them. I don't want to throw any object away, even the smelly markers that no longer work.
When I found the pastels, I had been working on a drawing of a swan. Something told me that they would be just right. The price sticker was still on the box. He had purchased them from a small store in Rutland, probably 20-30 years ago. They were cheap by today's standards. I didn't think that he had used them. Then I picked up a stick and it had been sanded into a point. Several of the pastel sticks had been sanded in this way. They felt like heaven on my fingertips. Smooth, buttery, and warm. The energy of my grandfather was imprinted on each stick like a fingerprint. I felt content and connected to him. It is a way that I can continue to draw with him.