act of kindness

The Resurrection of Gilly Bagoon and the Art of Keeping Promises

Gilly and Church relaxing at home.. circa 1986

Many years ago, my sister Patricia fell in love with a feral cat and named him Gilly Bagoon. She desperately wanted Gilly to come live in the house with us, but we already had a cat.

Ironically, his name was Church – after the resurrected cat from Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Church was a handful. Crazy… and a biter. He used to climb my youngest sister like a tree – leaving gouges and scratches all over her legs and arms. She was covered in band-aids for most of her childhood.

Suffice it to say, my father did not want to bring another cat into the house. But Patricia was relentless. She was certain Gilly would get hit by a car and die.. and she fearfully explained this to my father every single night when he came home from work. This went on for some time.

My sisters were visiting their grandparents when the prophecy was fulfilled. Gilly Bagoon had been hit by a car and died. My father was beside himself.

He explained how he heard a car screech outside and KNEW immediately what had occurred. The poor young lady driving was horrified.. crying as she and my father examined Gilly’s limp body lying in the road. Too miserable and stunned to react, my father said nothing as the girl scooped Gilly up and drove off.

He readied himself for the wrath of my sister and the inevitable “I told you so!” he deserved and was prepared to endure for the rest of his life.

It was so sad. Poor Gilly. Patricia was heartbroken, inconsolable. Over and over she asked my father a single obsessive question.. demanding his response again and again:

“If Gilly was alive, could he live in the house?!?”

“Yes! Yes!” My father replied. “Of course he could!”

And life went on.

MANY MONTHS LATER…

I was doing laundry in the garage with the door wide open when a car pulled into the driveway. A young lady stepped out carrying something wrapped in a green towel. Unaware of what was coming, I walked out to meet her… and stopped dead in my tracks.

The girl was speaking.. I saw her mouth moving but I didn’t hear a word she said. Sure enough, the thing in the towel was Gilly Bagoon. I stared in shock as the girl set him down on the floor of the garage. I noticed that Gilly’s head had an odd tilt to the left as he limped slowly toward me.

The girl kept speaking. Something about injuries and inner ear damage..? I think I managed to thank her before she left.

After the initial shock, my thoughts went immediately to Patricia. We brought Gilly with us when we picked her up from school. It was a magnificent reunion.. and when we got home Patricia scooped Gilly under her arm and marched into the house without hesitation.

And then I remembered my father! I had to warn him of what was waiting for him when he got home! This was long before the age of cellphones, so I desperately tried to reach him at work before he left.

It was too late.

When I heard my father pull up in the driveway I ran to the door to intercept him, but Patricia was faster.

My father opened the door to my sister standing triumphantly in front of him with Gilly in her arms.

“GILLY’S ALIVE NOW!” she declared, “YOU SAID HE COULD LIVE IN THE HOUSE!”

My poor father.

Somehow, he managed to say the words:

“Yes. Yes, of course he can.”

Promises kept.

 

 

 

 

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Lost Dolls and the Art of Perserverance

“Lost and Found Again” by Michele Bledsoe

 

The floppy yellow doll in the lower left corner of this painting is Beth..

my sister’s beloved childhood doll.

Many years ago,

in a moment of carelessness

Beth was lost

and my sister was filled with regret.

It broke my heart.

 

For over 20 years, I have relentlessly searched for Beth.

Antique stores, yard sales

and endless, insomnia-fueled internet searches.

A noble quest

to reunite my sister with her beloved doll.

 

Recently, my doll-hunting obsession

came up in conversation.

My sister remembered me telling her about it

10 years ago.

She was touched that after all this time

I had not given up.

 

I told her I would look for Beth

for the rest of my life

if that’s what it took to find her…

 

The next day, Beth was found.

As my husband held me in his arms..

I wept tears of joy.

My quest is over.

I am at peace.

 

Cat Portraits and the Art of Being Selfless

“Portrait of Munchkin Giggle-Sprinkles” by Michele Bledsoe

 

Recently, I put aside my work in progress..

and ignored a looming deadline

to pour myself into a special request –

A portrait of my sister’s beloved cat

who passed away last year.

This is what art is all about.

Not the galleries and the exhibits.

Not the personal attention

and public exposure…

it’s about the gift

and what you choose to do with it.

 

Snowmen, Ice Cream Cones and the Art of Doing the Best You Can

Me and Anna under the rainbow..

 

My husband and I volunteer as art teachers

for a group of inner city kids in downtown Phoenix.

One evening, we were joined by a particularly shy little girl.

Sitting in front of a blank piece of paper,

she whispered that she couldn’t think of anything to draw.

I asked her if there was something she wanted me to draw.

“A snowman!” she said, touching the picture of Olaf on her t-shirt.

“Okay,” I said – rising to the challenge..

“I never drew him before, but I am going to do the best I can.”

The girl watched me intently.

A few minutes later, I showed the little girl my drawing.

Smiling, she looked down at her blank piece of paper

and announced with great conviction,

“I am going to draw an ice cream cone. I never drew one before

but I am going to do the best I can.”

She drew a wonderful ice cream cone, covered in sprinkles with a cherry on top..

and after that, she drew the picture you see above.

I thanked her

and then I got something in my eye.

Painted Presents and the Art of Christmas

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It’s hard to paint with a cat in your lap.

Many years ago I painted a portrait of my sister

for her Christmas present.

I am a slow painter.

If I remember correctly…

I started that painting

many months before Christmas

giving myself time

to linger over my work.

“Portrait of Sherry” by Michele Bledsoe

This Christmas

my sister asked for another portrait.

Not of herself,

but one of her beloved cat, Munchkin

who passed away this year..

leaving me 6 days to finish the painting.

6 days.

As of today, it is 5.

Did I decline her request?

Did I make excuses?

Did I explain that I simply had too many other things to do before Christmas?

No.

I just grabbed a blank canvas and started painting.

Opportunity, Wealth and the Art of Service

No One Has Ever Become Poor by Giving.- Anne Frank

image: Detail from “The Bridge” by Michele Bledsoe

 

There was a period of time

where my paintings were on display every month..

but now I feel myself pulled in a different direction.

I still participate in exhibits occasionally

but my focus has been more on

what good can I do through sharing my talents

rather than how much money can I make

by selling them.

 

Though service I’ve found that

the opportunities are endless..

and the results make you rich beyond measure.

Sowing Seeds and the Art of Sharing Knowledge

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“The Church of Instinct”, “As Above So Below” and “From the Old House” by Michele Bledsoe

 

First and foremost, I am a painter..

but I am other things as well.

 

I have learned a lot

throughout the course of my life..

cultivating valuable skills

that I have worked hard to accumulate.

Through trial and error

I have gained experience..

And with years of practice

I’ve learned to do things

that I used to think were

miles beyond my capabilities.

 

I suppose I could hold a series of costly workshops

on a number of  topics..

everything from social media marketing

to formatting and publishing ebooks.

 

Or maybe I could hoard my knowledge

and use these skills for myself alone.

 

Instead,

I went in a different direction..

choosing to focus more on

what good can I do through sharing my various gifts

rather than how much money I can make

selling them.

 

So now I spend my days

working with young adults within the autism spectrum..

teaching them

everything I’ve learned.

 

Maybe that’s not the path

to making myself a ton of money..

but by sowing these seeds

and watching my students grow

I am already rich beyond measure.