Monday, August 29, 2011
The gift that really did keep on giving
When I was in college, I received a terrific gift: a drawing table with a large surface and the ability to be folded to a 6-inch width. Handy when you moved as much as I did in those days and the decade that followed. The table was from one of my four brothers, David. Today is the 20th anniversary of his death at age 36. He was one of the early AIDS victims and it was shattering to watch such a vibrant, athletic man wither before our eyes.
David had a knack for finding the right present and followed my late mother's dictum of giving gifts that the recipient would never buy. Generally, though, my mom's gifts were whimsical while David's were far more practical. Like her, he was thoughtful and knew me inside out. He always surprised me with exactly what I wanted - even when I hadn't asked for it. I still carry around the beautiful, leather knapsack he gave me when he knew I longed to travel but couldn't afford to. I did eventually get to tote it around Europe, and still take it with me when we go.
David and I shared our birthday celebrations. He was born Sept. 27, the day before me, and two years after me. When we were young, there was a big sheet cake divided in half by pink icing on my side and blue on his. Later, my mom began a tradition of making us our favorite meal on our birthdays and I opted for pumpkin pie instead of cake. I loved the pie, but missed blowing out all the candles on our shared cake.
The drawing table ended up being the only one I would own, and has been at the center of every studio I've had. It is scuffed; embedded with ink, paint and glitter; marred by hundreds of cuts made by razor blades, knives and Japanese hole punches. But I'd never part with it.