Please Don’t Touch the Painting!

<a href=””>The Power of Touch</a>

At some point in the early 90’s there was a display of Impressionist Art at the Philadelphia Art Museum.  That place too many people associate with Rocky movies, but contains some truly incredible works from just about every genre you can imagine.  This particular exhibit was centered on Monet and Manet, the former being my absolute favorite and my knowledge of the later was brought forward that day.

There is a piece by Monet, whose title I just can’t get right, where a young lady carrying a parasol along with a small child walk along a river’s bank.  Everything about that image is stuck in my head.  For years afterwards I would try to capture that same emotional set but with a camera.  And sometimes just from having seen someone I didn’t know recreating a portion of my vision.  The number of times I sat watching people along Boston Commons, it might have labeled me a stalker!

Over the years I have seen so many people walk along with their child.  Holding their hand while running errands, crossing the street, just going about the normal things that we see every day.  But in my head, I saw a variation on that Monet painting that always made me smile.  Even when I have seen parents walking their kids around the hospital, there is a small part of me that recalls that day in the museum.

Maybe it holds such a strong place because when I think about my mother’s father that is exactly the image that comes to mind.  Him walking me around a park, feeding the ducks or pushing me on a swing-set.  There came a time when we didn’t walk like that anymore, but the feeling of his hand gripping mine is something precious.

My nephew is a few years older than my daughter and when I would see my own father lean over [he’s 6’3″ so small children give that Hunchback reference to his spine!], it made me jealous.  When my nephew got older, he liked to go into the woods.  It meant sometimes holding that tiny hand of his so that he could make it up a hill or across some small creek running along the property.  It was fun.

That same feeling of a small hand, that was all of my own creation came along eventually.  My mind went to planning years worth of walks in the woods, to the park, just up and down the stair while she was learning the delicate nature of one foot in front of the other.  There are still times when I let my mind picture what it would have been like to walk her down the aisle, but then I snap back to reality.

Over the years that hand would have felt different with each phase of life.  Barely fitting the palm of my hand until we hit the point where she was digging nails into my palm because I was saying something silly to her friends.

At some point it should have been her hand holding mine for the last time not the other way around.  A different flash of memories flooding us both.

That painting hanging on the wall set a 21 year old college kid on a path for years.  First just finding a reproduction to hang on the wall [which I still have not found!], later setting a goal on how I was going to want to live my life.  You never touch art, but art touches you.  Looking for that hand has been a wonderful adventure, one I was lucky to share.

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