My earliest memory when I was 2 is of my Uncle Elliot coming home to his mother’s house, my Bubbe, at the end of WWII. My uncle had his duffle bag over his shoulder and was in his navy blue uniform with his sailor cap on his head. My uncle served on the USS Missouri, the ship Japan surrendered to in WWll. He was present at the signing of the Peace agreement with Japan and so was I in another form. My baby picture had won the contest for the naming of the Sick Bay on the ship. The USS Missouri sickbay was named Ann R for the duration of the war.
I was born a poor girl in New Bedford MA to an older couple. My parents came home to tell everyone they were engaged, Dec 7, 1941, and they were told Pearl Harbor had been bombed. My father was 40 when the war ended and he never was able to get a got job.
My mother worked and went back to school to get her High School diploma. We lived in Rhode Island and moved 6 or 7 times while I was in school. When it came time to go on to higher education I was told you can be a teacher or a nurse. Choose. Well, I didn't want to be a teacher so at the ripe old age of 17 I went off to Beth Israel School of Nursing in Boston MA. Before the school year was out I visited my folks and announced I was engaged. (Note: I looked at my kids at 17 and saw why my parents were upset.) My husband to be was a complete nerd but I loved him. He made me feel safe and he loved me. My parents taught me speak when spoken to and listen to others. So I was a very well behaved wife.We lived in a tiny apartment in Brookline MA. We both worked and saved for our first house. We had a boy (1967) and a girl (1970) three years apart. We moved to Needham MA (1967) into a mess but it was our mess of a house. We could afford the $99 a month mortgage. After being married about 12 years I got my own checking account. I began to come into my own. I had my own money to spend. In the early 70's I took a painting class. The instructor, whose name is lost to time, was brutal. I didn't pick up a paintbrush for over 25 years. I was tired of everyone else making decisions for me. By 1979 I became emboldened. I hired contractors and had them tear out a tree and tear off the side of our home to build an addition. You might say I jumped out of the BOX. Larry finally got over it and life went on. He never knew what was up my sleeve.
In 1984 I was diagnosed with MS and over the years lost the feeling in my body, my arms and legs were compromised. I dropped things and fell down. I had severe memory issues and couldn’t retain any information. I had extreme fatigue. I developed asthma and had bouts of pneumonia.
Struggling to function,1993, I bought an old Victorian house. I needed some normalcy. Larry was very surprised with my new purchase. As I got in touch with my inner voice, I realized that I had to bring large, bold colors into my life. My first project was major—I turned my newly-acquired, previously-forsaken Victorian house in into a classic “Painted Lady”–one of those showy peacocks of housing architecture. On the inside, over time, I have created an equally inspiring, exciting gallery of style.
I had to go out of work on disability 1994.For the first five years I was so fatigued I slept most of the time. I couldn’t read a book or even retain information from a magazine. Food didn’t interest me. I gained weight, couldn’t exercise and had a hard time with not having a productive life. My days were spent in front of the TV sleeping. In 1999 I picked up a paintbrush. In 2008, with the help of a new doctor, I was correctly diagnosed with a severe gluten allergy, not MS. With time, a gluten-free diet and healing, art has become a more and more significant and central source of my physical, mental, artistic and spiritual strength.
I cut out gluten and my life began again. In 2009 I repainted all my paintings with better paint and more skill. In 2010 I participated in Newton Open Studios. I was a local success! I painted "Talkative Women" who told my story but it became your story as you gazed at them. Up to 800 people come through our home each year for Newton Open Studios.
I paint through spirit and the ideas flow through my brush. I am grateful for every day. My first-hand experience with suffering and illness and my journey into a place of healing has given me a unique perspective. I truly appreciate and embrace life, feel joy and know peace. I have learned to adapt to whatever life has thrown at me and find comfort in my paintbrush, my husband. my family and my friends.
I feel happier, younger and more alive than ever. I thank heaven for all I have been blessed with. I look forward to all this journey has in store for me with excitement and fear, joy and worry. I believe my work has stories to tell and audiences for those stories.
If my own story were to have a moral it would be this: Do not be afraid to dream. Fight like hell and if you’re lucky, with the wind at your back, you can fly.