by Andy Weddington
Saturday, 11 January 2014
"God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, 'I love you.'" Billy Graham
Every day for twelve days I returned to the simple seven feet tall Cross - erected behind St. James Methodist Church in Hope Town on this tiny Abaco cay in the Bahamas - that overlooks the mighty Atlantic Ocean. The Cross, crudely configured from two old weather-beaten - harsh sun; salt spray; rain; and wind - boards, stands strong; defiantly.
I visited at different times from sunrise to sunset. And on gray, windy, rainy days, too. I walked around the iconic symbol of Christianity. I stood and sat - on rocks, cement, and sand. I thought about my Roman Catholic roots. And painting. I sketched. More than a dozen drawings - in Sharpie and watercolor crayon - with notes grace sketchbook pages.
The power of the simple Cross ever on my mind. A painting was there but the simplicity of design, and light, was eluding me. I was troubled by the Cross. I was restless.
And I was thinking about something - someone - else, too.
Two days ago, Thursday the 9th, I was awakened from sleep shortly before sunrise with an idea for the painting.
After coffee I turned to and painted, with vigor, that Cross - that powerful scene. It had to be done.
A few hours after completing the painting my brother called. He shared heartbreaking news.
Shortly thereafter I called my Mom and spoke to my Dad - he, unable to speak, listened. Mom said he nodded. I then sent a photograph of the Cross painting in a text to Mom. I asked that she show it to Dad and read him the accompanying story how the painting came to be. She did. He listened. He nodded.
That troubled and restless feeling calmed.
This morning that same brother called again - with more heartbreaking news.
Mom, two brothers, and my sister called, too.
More than 50 years ago Dad taught me the fundamentals of painting (in my youth, one of our first paintings together was of the old Rectory guarding our family's church). And I was thinking about those fundamentals, their simplicity, while painting that Cross. (I learned that afternoon from my brother that my Dad's kidneys failed during the time I was painting.)
Thursday morning, having little control over life these past few months gallantly fighting too many post-surgery complications, he rejected dialysis.
Dad (1361) was taking back control.
Per his direction, medicines were given for comfort. He wanted the ventilator removed.
Family had time to hold and caress, to say goodbye (for now), and to offer a final "I love you." Eyes closed, he nodded understanding.
Yesterday he breathed deeply and easily - as was hoped for since the end of August. He was warm. His expression of peace.
Early this morning he gave subtle signal to Mom embracing aside, only she could understand, that he wanted to be alone. She complied. Married nearly 58 years and a trained nurse, she knew.
Dad - that someone else on my mind all these days - died, peacefully, at 0728.
He was in control.
And I, like father like son, in control, dutifully write with a heavy heart, but at peace.
I say a prayer. And kindly ask you do too.
Harry Franklin Weddington, Jr.
24 November 1935 - 11 January 2014
Late September 2013 (post-surgery)
1. My Cross painting is dedicated to you, Dad, and you, Mom - Thursday proved it was meant to be. I am proud of you.
2. Cross - 8 x 5 1/2 inches gouache on paper.