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Squinting at Monet: A Mother’s Day Tribute



Squinting at Monet: A Mother's Day Tribute

Untitled/Shirley Van Dusen


By Lisa Van Dusen

Could 12, 2024

This piece was first printed as an Ottawa Citizen column on Mom’s Day, 2000. Shirley Van Dusen is now 98, and nonetheless portray.

NEW YORK CITY – I walked the 45 blocks dwelling from work on Fifth Avenue Thursday afternoon as a result of it was a kind of staggeringly wonderful New York spring days that movie administrators both wait weeks to catch, or curse, the way in which they curse rainbows, as a result of no person will ever purchase that it occurred that approach.

I ended on the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork and frolicked among the many Monets and the van Goghs as a result of — I don’t care what anybody says — they get to me.

And I considered my mom, who can be an artist.

I used to be at a flowery gown ball in Boston just a few years again and a gentleman of a sure age, which, by the way in which, they by no means say about gents, requested me to bounce. As he manoeuvred me across the ground and because the full horror of his mistake was certainly dawning on him, my companion, a Toronto actual property developer, requested whether or not I used to be Shirley Van Dusen’s daughter. I informed him I used to be.

”Your mom’s essentially the most stunning lady I’ve ever met.”

This has occurred greater than as soon as through the years. It wasn’t all the time on a dance ground, however all the time males in tuxedoes and often after they’d had just a few. My mom would dismiss these incidents as sloshy nostalgia for the street not taken.

Once I was a child, I by no means knew my mom was stunning. She didn’t put on her magnificence like a coat or pause a beat for it to be acknowledged by strangers. She had seven youngsters to handle, which didn’t depart a lot time for self-consciousness. She additionally had the kind of expertise that didn’t enable for vainness, as a result of it was messy, smelly, and required a wardrobe principally of my father’s castoff shirts, additional done-in by paint. As a result of she didn’t appear to pay attention to her magnificence, I suppose we weren’t both.

She was a colonel’s daughter, a debutante, who was a vogue illustrator when she married my father – then a crack reporter on the now-defunct Ottawa Journal. She stopped portray when the older ones had been sufficiently old to eat her oils and didn’t begin once more till I used to be sufficiently old to not. Give or take just a few furtive lessons, a 20-year hiatus.

Throughout these years, she slopped us, scrubbed us and, each time needed, which was incessantly, gave us the well-known demise glare. She knew the best way to say precisely the appropriate issues throughout each disaster, as if she was born with it, and he or she was all the time proper the place we’d left her.

My Mum, 98 and nonetheless portray/CTV Ottawa

It wasn’t till after I used to be sufficiently old to actually see her that I discovered she was stunning, however I bear in mind the day her different secret hit me full pressure. It was years in the past, a loud Sunday at my mother and father’ home. All the children, the skilled talkers, had been on about no matter we had been on about.

I sat down for a break, both benched or winded, and located myself observing an incredible, 2,000-word panorama of Provence, the place as soon as there hadn’t been one, and understanding for the primary time that whereas the remainder of us had been busy making an attempt to out-wise one another, the real expertise within the room was on the partitions.

So, just a few days earlier than Mom’s Day, I stood in New York squinting at this smudgy cathedral as a result of she taught me, again once I was so younger I can’t bear in mind how previous I used to be, that typically you need to squint to see issues clearly.

I considered what it have to be wish to know you’ll be able to produce one thing so stunning and the way you’d must see the world that approach within the first place to have the ability to convey it.

Generally my daughter sees colors the place they shouldn’t be and that no person else can see – purple bushes, yellow clouds – and I do know she’s not loopy as a result of I’ve heard it earlier than. And I do know she wouldn’t be right here if the lady she bought that specific reward from hadn’t put it apart for what should have appeared an eternity.

So, apart from thanking her for all the things else, I’d additionally wish to thank her for not taking the street not taken.

Coverage Journal Editor and Writer Lisa Van Dusen served as a senior author at Maclean’s, Washington bureau chief for Solar Media, worldwide author for Peter Jennings at ABC Information and an editor at AP Nationwide in New York and UPI in Washington.

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