Linda’s minstrel

What is a hero? Someone who’s courage is such that we strive to be like them. My cousin Linda is a hero, one of my heroes. Her courage is infectious, her hope strong and supported by our family.

It was only as an adult that I began to understand the importance of this family. For reasons I would not like to go into, six years of my adult life were spent without this support system. By bad choices and mistakes of trust, I lost them all. Waking up, understanding what I was without, I came back. I made that choice. Other things have led me along paths that I never thought probable, let alone possible. All the while, my family backed me, loved me, waited for me, and welcomed me home. Although we were not the best of friends, Linda and I were still cousins, still family, enjoying that bond on different planes.

Linda had a fight on her hands that brought the family together and showed what collective courage and support do in a true family. We banded together under the pink flag of hope against that horrible disease of breast cancer in the name of Linda. Her children, her husband, mother, father, brothers, and the rest of the extensions on all sides. We gave and raised funds, participated in awareness campaigns and did our parts. Then, on a day we all breathed again freely, Linda was without cancer. The awareness and fundraising still went on and the family still supported others who now shared our family’s common enemy.

Earlier this year, that enemy returned within the stronghold of our family. With courage and hope, frustration and struggles, Linda now faced Metastatic Breast Cancer. The call went out and the family once again answered. Every branch of the tree, even the spliced in branches of friends, came to support and fight. Like a call for conscriptions in the ancient days of battle, our family grew to a wide net of help and compassion, empathy and hope. Two symbols stuck out to Linda in her fight, from her first battle, the butterfly, the anchor for this round.

I am only an artist. I have no answers. I’d like to finish the story… and she was miraculously cured! But, the story is just starting a new chapter. The hope forever grows, the anchors go into the seas of unsure waters and hold our stalwart ship of Linda and her home in place and filled with hope. This is the part of the story that is written and sung about, the part where the heroes show their mettle and those of us on the sidelines find ourselves either doing, praying, or making a difference in support of them. I am an artist, I used my art and will continue to do so.

On a local television station, I was asked to do a piece of artwork live (complete with interview). An opportunity like that cannot be passed by. I drew an anchor for her, and had the anchors of the show “leap for Linda” in support. IMG_0870 IMG_0872 IMG_0933 Linda_Square_PSPF2015 (1)

That television show was to promote the Providence Street Painting Festival. At the festival, I did an 8’x8′ square dedicated to Linda. I am only an artist, this is all I can do. I spread the word, I make images to help, and I write words to explain what I feel and how things impact my life. I hope that is enough.

When Linda saw the square, when she visited the festival as I was setting down the last words, “Even with a bit of damage on our wings, we still manage to fly,” her face told me all I needed to know. I had helped the hero, I had done my part as a squire to the warrior, a minstrel on the battlefield heralding her glory to frighten the soul of the enemy.

The fight is hers. Her courage is beyond my understanding, but something for me to strive toward as a person. I am her kin, and of that I am inexplicably proud. We do not choose our family. We do, however, choose how we treat them as a testament to how we feel about the rest of our human family. I will be a herald, a minstrel, a court painter, I will catalog and praise her bravery. It is what I can do, it is what I will do.

Will you, my human brothers and sisters join me in this proclamation:

“Cancer will not be the plague of humanity. We will stand, we will fight, we will hope and pray. We cannot be defeated, for we are family, we are one. Though the enemy will try, never will it destroy our hope, our dream of its irradiation from our race, for we are a family of collective courage carrying our warriors into battle. We will not stand on the sidelines and hope the enemy does not get us. There is no nation under the stars that fights this alone. Join hands, join voices and shout to the heavens, ‘We are one family, fighting together, we are the steeds and squires, heralds, and minstrels holding aloft the most courageous knights!’ It will echo in the very walls of creation and it will forever be our legacy. The truest triumph is never giving up.”

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