Three Children at the Lake

Three Children by the Lake Remember their Father, 8" x 10" encaustic

It’s lovely when an art piece returns.  This encaustic to the left was one I created shortly after the death of my father and I sold it to some dear friends at an art show.

What I forgot to do was photograph this piece for my own records as I do with all my art.  After months and months, my friend arrives at my door with my art.  I polish it up (encaustics can create a “bloom” on the wax, so polishing with a lint-free cloth can shine the wax right up) and take a photo.

Now that I have this piece back — at least in its digital form — I am reminded of the moment that inspired the creation of this encaustic: a family of four at a dock at Lake Washington spreading the ashes of their beloved father and husband.  And here I depict my brothers and I, my father’s three little birds, wondering what it means to let him go — let go of the ashes, let go of his physicality, let go of his presence and wisdom. How do you let go of “dad-ness”?  What does it mean for a son to no longer have a father?  What does it mean to a daughter to feel her father’s absence every day? Is there a way to cultivate “dad-ness” somehow, and in particular our dad’s essence?

The sun is breaking through the lake fog on this particular day in the art piece and Lake Washington turns very blue, as we watch his ashes float like clouded smoke and then disappear.

We watch everything change: the sky, the sun’s gentle angle on the water, the ashes’ slow descent, our bodies missing the touch of our father’ s hand on our shoulder to comfort us. I be sure to touch everyone–hand on shoulder, hand in hand, full-body hug–to replace what was missing: a father who would have known just what to do.


About Courtney Putnam

I first came to healing work through art and writing. Creating collage art and poetry in particular allowed me to deeply understand the benefit of self-expression in the healing process. But, I also began to see the benefit of bodywork (manual work in the form of massage and energywork in the form of Reiki) as keys to unlocking the emotional stresses we hold in our bodies. I became a Reiki practitioner in 2002, received an MFA in Creative Writing in 2003, received my massage license in the spring of 2006, and became a Reiki Master in 2010. In my practice I bring together these three areas -- the body, the mind, and the spirit (or energy body) -- so others may experience profound and positive change in their lives.
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3 Responses to Three Children at the Lake

  1. Just found your site/blog. Enjoy your writing and art very much. You are a woman of many talents!

  2. Sue Simpson says:

    This is beautiful. A time of feeling, healing, remembering and …cherishing. Your father is living strong through you, that is very evident.

  3. beautiful…what more could I possibly say than that.

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