A thanksgiving note to my dad

The tow path in Schuylerville NY

The tow path in Schuylerville NY

On the morning of my dad’s funeral I was up early after a sleepless night and went for a walk on the tow path behind what had been my parents’ house.  They lived by the Erie Canal and during all my many visits to their house, I had walked  the tow path.

I thought the walk would help to ground me to be ready for the day ahead.  Listening to my iPod, and walking in the misty rain, there ahead of me was a huge blue heron.   I had never seen any before in all the years that I’ve walked here.   And it stayed ahead of me, flying a few feet, re-landing and waiting for me to catch up to it.


I realized that it was a message from my dad.    One part of heron’s  meaning (which I learned later) is balance, and they represent an ability to progress and evolve.  And they have the ability to stand on their own.   Do I find it surprising that my dad sent me this message?  Not really.    This trip to see him as he was dying, turned into having to deal with his death and the many other losses in my life this past year.   And to learn how to stand on my own two feet and adjust to being on my own.

My dad and I had a good relationship. We could talk about almost anything.    I was definitely his daughter.   I was most like my dad and we could sit for hours and silently communicate with each other.    We could easily pick up a conversion from where we had left it and continue.   He loved to sing while wandering around the house and was quite the accomplished handyman.

He worked on the railroad, originally the Erie Lackawanna (which I thought was much more fun than Conrail).    I even got to go to work with my dad once in a while which was fun because I got to ride on his train.

What does any of this have to do with art or making mixed media?   I’ve been surprised at how few pictures I have of my dad before he got married.  I have more pictures of my mom and her side of the family then his.   I’ve been trying to decide  what to do with his photos and remember him is what I need to do.   So I’ve been playing with photo transfers to fabric.  I’ve used several of the photo transfer sheets, and the fabric that you can feed through the printer and most of their pros and cons.  My two favorite techniques so far has been making my own fabric pieces and running them through the printer.   For this you need to take a piece of cardstock, spray with adhesive, and then lay the precut fabric on with the face side up.  You put in in the paperfeed and hit print.  And it’s as easy at that!   But then where do you go from there?   I took some photos of my dad that I printed out, along with a print of the Erie Lackawanna logo and sewed them onto this work apron that had been my dad’s.

But first I spray painted the apron, using some of his wooden biscuits from his wood working supplies as the resist.   I think it’ll be a great yard work apron.  Another thing he loved to do.

At least my dad did get to visit Arizona.  He passed through on the train to bootcamp and they stopped in Phoenix and got off the train and played in the snow.

I’m spending my thanksgiving holiday riding the Grand Canyon Railroad to the Grand Canyon.   I thought it was a fitting way to celebrate the holiday and remembering my dad.




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