For Wendy


Wendy, my sister-in-law, was beautiful in every sense of the word. I even think that Erin felt herself somewhat in the shadow of that beauty. Wendy was physically beautiful, strong and immensely talented, She had the confidence of one who knows her talents. She did not suffer fools gladly.

Wendy was a biologist turned painter. Erin was a physicist turned poet. I don’t think either of their parents quite knew what hit them. Both their daughters emerged with college degrees, and then excelled in fields only marginally related to what they’d studied.

As with Erin, you could see Wendy’s talent from the beginning. She was a medical illustrator, deft with pencils and paints, and her abilities only grew as time went on. You can see a good deal of Wendy’s body of work at her web site. She’d been successful in getting her art displayed at the Omaha art festival, and she sold her paintings at prices good artists deserve. There was no doubt what would be in her future.

What I remember most of Wendy and her art was a trip she, Erin and I took to Pierre, South Dakota, to visit my mother-in-law and her husband. We were all enchanted by the near-desert landscapes, the sagebrush and the prickly pears. As we went to one of the man-made lakes on the Missouri River, Erin and Rosemarie decided to head down to the beach, and the near moon-scape that comes from lake bottom exposed to dry air, but Wendy stayed behind. She got out her easel, a canvas, and her paints and she did an oil sketch of the land around her. And rather than tour the lakeshore, I decided to stay with Wendy.

For at least an hour, I did nothing but sit and watch her paint. The intensity about her; the way she blocked out all distractions (of which I was surely one), the way she turned blank canvas into a (I thought) perfect representation of the sagebrush horizon, was fascinating.

I spent that hour watching paint dry. It was fascinating.


My mother (and I’m sure my father too) is somewhat incredulous that I’d share something as personal as what I shared in my last blog post. And, thinking about it, I can see where they’re coming from. But as Erin pointed out, we have a number of very good friends, for whom our primary contact is online, and the blog has given us the best opportunity to reach them, and be reached by them. I’m still sure there are limits to what one can wisely put online, but it has been helpful to hear from you folks and to receive your condolensces.

To put it more succinctly, you guys all rock. Thank you for all of your kind thoughts and support.

To those who have wondered how Erin’s doing, what with the pregnancy and the stress we’re under, thus far the pregnancy has helped considerably. Each kick from SmallBow has been an affirmation of life (a term I learned from Madeleine L’Engle), and SmallBow has been kicking up a storm.

I thought briefly of naming the child after Wendy, but a couple of things stopped me. One, Wendy disliked her name. Two, if we paired it up with Vivian, her initials would be V.W. Bow, far too close to V.W. Beetle. We don’t want her nicknamed Volkswagen.

And Vivian has come to mean a memorial for Wendy in Erin’s eyes. She said so at her reading during the memorial ceremony. The name means, literally, “full of life”, and I hope that our child grows up to be as vivacious and talented as Wendy. And now that we’ve made this commitment, I dearly hope we don’t end up having to name our child Frank or something.

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