The Art Collection

Several of the kids, plus spouses, grandkids, etc were here this weekend to celebrate their dad’s birthday. (Somebody had to eat the cake for him.) My son looked at the art work on the walls in our living room, kitchen and bedroom and he asked me about the art. “That’s an original and that’s an original, and that’s an original,” I told him pointing to five of the six pieces in the bedroom. And these are originals, and these are signed lithos, and. . .” I realized we have a really nice art collection in our modest little country house. It’s funny that after being surrounded by art his entire life growing up my son suddenly saw it with different eyes.
He commented on one of the pieces he’d always liked. I smiled,”That was the first nice piece we bought. We hadn’t been married long, we were in the middle of starting our own business, we had no money, and dad saw that hanging in a gallery. He had to have it. We made monthly payments on it for most of a year before we picked it up.”
“Why? Why did you buy it?” my son wanted to know. “Especially at that time when you had so many expenses and the kids coming along and so much to spend money on?”
I smiled, “Your dad liked beautiful things. He wasn’t extravagant in his life, but he wanted his home and family to be surrounded by beauty.”
I think about it. Without him I would never have bought some of our nicest things. I would have admired art but I wouldn’t have woken up to it every morning. And it wasn’t just art. The living room furniture he brought home twenty some years ago has a patina of age and hard use and it still enhances our home. The leather glows more than when it was new. It was the same with the vacations through Mexico and into Central America where we spent so many summers, the time and memory building he invested in the family. He wanted to do things right. He thought about what he wanted his life to be and he invested his time and money to make it happen. He loved books and we have hundreds of books, many signed by the author. Somehow the signature gave recognition and connection beyond picking up a book, reading and putting it down. It acknowledged the work that gave him pleasure. He read books on Kindle, we wrote books for Kindle, but he preferred the real thing. We collected beetles. Beetle collecting gave form and purpose to our vacations. It took us to strange and and wonderful places and it brought us together with interesting people. Our lives and our home were full.
I see so many things, so many memories when I look around that have enriched our family and our home and our lives. Are we wealthy? No. But we live in beauty.

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About Karen Hopkins

Karen Hopkins (1949-) was born in Los Angeles and raised in Martinez, California. At seventeen she moved to Talcahuano, Chile. After completing her university degree she worked in London, England for Pan American Airlines and traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East, and India. For twenty-six years Karen taught Spanish and English as a Second Language in a variety of settings including a private school in Panama, the "most remote school in the United States" in Ticaboo, Utah, the Navajo Reservation, and a teacher exchange in Hermosillo, Mexico. Karen and her husband traveled extensively throughout Mexico and Central America, spending many summers in the highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala . Karen currently lives in Southern Arizona, near the Mexican border.
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