Saturday, April 25, 2009

The starving artist fund


The charming baby in the middle is my sister Helen. And yes, that is her happy face. She detested her first name, loved her children, was smart and funny, quick to correct your grammar or spelling and was the best shopper in the whole wide world. She prided herself on never spending more on something than what the tax would have been on the original price. Except shoes, she did buy shoes if even they weren't on sale. But most of all she was a gambler. She loved to gamble and made sure it was an option regardless of her circumstances. Not that she gambled to excess or lost big money, but she did think of it as a sorta kinda part time job. It gave her great pleasure. She gambled with intention, once winning just enough to buy my son a portable wheelchair when Medicaid wouldn't and many other similar '"causes". She really loved it, the sights, the sounds, the black coffee and Jr Mints to sustain her, winning a little or a lot. It was her thing.
Now I can hear you asking how does that fit with the title of this post? Well, I am going to tell you. When I moved to NM in the early 80s, she began what she called "the starving artist fund" and since I was the only starving artist she knew, it was all for me! In her shopping, she loved to use coupons, find the store honoring double or triple coupons and was a big rebate getter. She was willing to save receipts, cut up boxes and do what ever it took to get that rebate. Only, she never actually got the rebate, she had all of them sent to me! Sometimes a dollar, sometimes more but the money came with strict instructions to spend it on art supplies, regardless of my circumstances. She always supported my artistic endeavors, didn't always understand or appreciate them, but always supported them. When she would get a little extra from one of her "adventures up the hill" (Central City or Blackhawk, CO) that would become part of the fund as well. She did it for years.
Today would have been her birthday, so to honor her my son and I went to casino to hear those sounds and smell that smell and promptly lost the $16 I brought and the $20 he brought and talked about her. We were in and out in about an hour, including lunch, about my limit. But she would have liked that. I am grateful to have had someone like her to be my champion, still think about that starving artist fund of years past and miss her every day.

Grace in small things
1. a free Lone Ranger stencil
2. Art supplies
3. knowing that this grief will lessen but my memories of her never will
4. her old high school and college yearbooks to stencil on
5. anticipating a visit with a friend

8 comments:

moongipsies said...

What a great photo. And what an honor for your sister Helen. She sounds like an awesome person.

I was thinking of my sister as well today.
Thanks for the great post.

I think we should start another starving artist fund. :)

DCsisterhood said...

I would have liked to meet Helen. I would have liked Helen. If only the casinos had come to Mississippi 30-35 years earlier!

Christina said...

even though i didn't know Helen, i miss her at this moment too. you honored her in such a beautiful way. she is my type of woman. Sale for everything except when you find the shoes in a color and style you love, we gotta go for it!
thank you for sharing this, my friend.

Paula said...

Oh how sweet !!! And what a darling photo.

I've never had a sister. *sigh*

A free Long Ranger stencil?????? How, where, when?????? YOU DOG !

Chris said...

This is a sweet remembrance. Thank you for sharing a bit about your sister. I like the photo. where are you? I so glad she believed in you.

You are a lucky girl.

Amy said...

Thank you for this beautiful tribute to Mom. We love you.

Stephanie said...

Leau,
Beautiful post....the love and support of someone, a friend, family member is something very special. Helen was a gem...happy birthday remembrance to her!!

x...x

paris parfait said...

What a lovely tribute to your sister. She must have been an amazing woman; obviously she loved you very much and appreciated your endeavours, artistic and otherwise! Thanks for sharing this wonderful story about her. xoxox