The beauty of ordinary things

My father-in-law died this week at the age of 88. A gentleman always and a stalwart family man, Roger lived for the last 10 months in a nursing home following a serious fall and head injury which left him with significant memory loss. On a recent visit, my husband encouraged me to bring along my sketchbook, hoping that it might spark conversation that had nothing to do with the past or the future. Indeed, it turned out to be one of the loveliest visits we shared together. The pages – whether butterflies, birds, ice, or dried up weeds – brought the outside world in. Roger understood that I was trying to capture the beauty of ordinary things, which, after all, is ours for the taking if only we look. It was to be my last visit. I’m so grateful for the gift of that simple insight and to have known an extraordinary man who understood it.

Northern Wild Senna and Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly (Phoebis sennae)

88 Comments on “The beauty of ordinary things

  1. Jean, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your father-in-law. My condolences to you, your husband, and your family. This is a beautiful tribute to him.

  2. What a lovely tribute to your father-in-law. I’m sure sharing your sketchbook brought him purejoy.

  3. So sorry to hear of this immense loss to your family. Art touches us all on so many levels, in ways we might not realize.what a beautiful tribute to him.

  4. Comfort and savored memories to your family in the loss of Roger. Please do pay attention to the bone deep fatigue of the care and the waiting-with that you have done.


    Wholeheartedly nurturing the next right tiny step


  5. So sorry to hear Jean. Such a bittersweet story. Thank you for sharing. Sending a hug.

  6. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your father-in-law, Jean. How wise your husband was to suggest taking your sketchbook to share with his dad. Your beautiful art has been a comfort and a cheer to me in many times of stress and loss. I imagine it was for Roger as well, and I’m sure it created a wonderful memory for you and your husband. Sending you and your family my heartfelt condolences.

  7. Jean,
    I’m so sorry to hear of this loss for you and your family. What a thoughtful suggestion your husband made and what a wonderful blessing that you shared such a special last visit with your father-in- law.

  8. Oh, Jean. How wonderful that you could have that meaningful visit connected through your art. My condolences.

  9. Oh how I love the way in which you brought the outside and nature in to your father-in-law!!! Thank you for sharing – I will share this practice with others!
    I am so sorry for your loss.

  10. My most sincere condolences, this testimony is very touching and your artwork sooo inspiring

  11. What a sweet moment of connection. I think pieces like yours are memories made visual. My heart goes out to you and Dan at this time of loss.

  12. I’m glad your last visit was a good one. My condolences to the whole family.

  13. Jean, I’m so sorry for your loss. What a gift your beautiful, joyful art was for him in that last, precious visit together. Praying for comfort for your family.

  14. Jean, I’m sorry to hear about your family’s loss. I would imagine your art triggered some beautiful memories for your father-in-law. What a gift! Thank you for sharing this.
    As usual, your painting is wonderful!
    Take care.

  15. I try to never miss a post of yours, and this one was especially meaningful. Art and music can touch all the hidden places of the soul.

  16. Condolences to you and your family on the loss of your father- in- law. What a beautiful way to say thank you and good bye. Sincerely, Liz


  17. My heart and prayers for your family. I also shared my sketchbooks with my mother in law. She was an artist herself and was always so happy to see my sketches of recent travels even when I felt shy about sharing them. I have inherited her set of brushes and think of her every time I use them.

  18. this is so lovely and touching… bringing home even more how wonderful it is we have ‘the gift of doing art’.. and a lovely sharing, all around.. thank you so much

  19. I am so sorry for your loss, Jean. Thank you for sharing this beautiful painting and the description of your last visit with your father-in-law. This is such a good reminder of the healing (different from cure) power of nature, art and different ways in which to share and care for each other.

  20. What a beautiful story! Ordinary things and a sketchbook … Condolences to you and your family Jean.

  21. So sorry for your loss, Jean. Hoping you will find comfort in the many memories. Sharing your nature journal was a wonderful, soothing activity to enjoy the now and be in the present. That is such a touching and meaningful gift for all of you. xo

  22. My condolences to you and your family during this time of great loss. May his love and light continue to shine on you. What a beautiful way to share your love and light…

  23. I am so sorry for your loss. I’m sure seeing your beautiful work was a comfort to him and a lovely memory for you and your husband.

  24. oh my…..this is really resonating with me this very minute (trying to see through the tears in my eyes). I’m down here in FL with my mom…and planning to move her to Assisted Living soon…she is dealing with increasing memory problems. I think a quiet afternoon of just sketching, and chatting would do us both good. I’m so sorry to hear of your family’s loss. I’m so glad you got to have this special moment….and so grateful you shared it with us!!

  25. We can communicate so much through art, especially if it connects with others in a simple, heartfelt way. It was a wonderful idea of your husband to bring the sketchbook. What a wonderful way to talk. All my sympathy, I feel for you and your family.

  26. Thank you for always sharing so generously of yourself and your beautiful art. What a lovely gift you gave to your husband and his family. You inspire the rest of us to use our own art with our own families.

  27. How kind and thoughtful of your husband to suggest bringing your sketchbook for a visit. That precious last visit was a gift not only to your father-in-law but to you and your husband as well. Every time you look to that sketchbook, you will remember him and the joy that sharing brought to each of you gathered round his bedside. God bless you.

  28. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. Condolences from our family to yours xo

  29. You gave your father-in-law a beautiful completion of his life. May he rest in peace and may you have wonderful memories of him.

  30. My condolences to you and your family for your loss. Sharing your sketchbook is a wonderful idea. I hope your post will open doors for many others.

  31. What a treasure the visit and your sketchbook is. I’m thankful you shared that with us. I pray comfort for your family.

  32. Hope you and your family take comfort in all the memories you made with your father-in-law. Thank you for sharing this special time with him along with your beautiful art.

  33. Jean, your post was so beautiful and touching. Sharing your beautiful sketchbook with your Father-In-Law was such a gift for both of you. My Dad has Alzheimers, yet he loves to see my art and sketchbooks. It’s something tangible and present for him. Keeping you and your family in my prayers. So sorry for you loss.

  34. So sorry about your loss Jean. Happy about that beautiful shared sketchbook experience !

  35. I am sorry for your loss, Jean. And the memory of your last visit together must give you strength during mourning. Thank you for sharing with us, and I’m so glad you shared with your Father-In-Law.

  36. Your husband was very wise! he must have intuited that looking through your sketchbook would be a gift for your father-in-law – and it turned out to be a gift for you as well. I’m sorry his last year was so difficult but I’m glad he had a devoted family nearby to ease the transition.

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