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While cleaning out papers at the office I found a small piece of art, which was lodged between some old journals.  The object d’art was almost tossed into the shredder with the JAMAs. It is a water colour of what I believe is The Pleiades.  On the back there is a signature “Betty James,  2003″. **  It was carefully wrapped in plastic; it looks as fresh as if were painted only yesterday.

Betty J. must have been a patient although I don’t remember her. Files from that time are off-site in some faraway storage bin. I have a vague memory of a woman giving me this bit of her artistry but the ‘when’ and ‘why’  is long forgotten. After it was discovered, I paused in silence and began thinking many thoughts. It was sheer luck I had found it at all; if I had been more hasty I would have missed it entirely. She was an elderly woman I recall; my intuition tells me is she is probably deceased.

What does one do with mementos that once had meaning but no longer do? It was probably given in gratitude. It was not some cheap or mass-produced item but an expression of her Self. I thought of all those who have gone before me who have touched me in some way. My soul swooned like Gabriel Conroy in “The Dead” to think upon it.

I decided I will get it framed and hang it in my office. When I see it I will think of ‘Betty James” although there will be no more recall other than what I have written here. The painting makes me think ahead to my own death. Now the artwork has meaning but it will become of no value after I go. It will cease to be a memory but merely some nice picture hanging in my office.  It will probably be tossed out along with the remaining JAMAs or put in a rummage sale.

In psychiatry residency we were taught our power is minimal but our influence vast. We may not leave specific legacies but perhaps we will touch others just enough to alter their life’s Journey to make a difference in their lives and those they encounter. I wonder if I did this for Betty James.  I assume I did something for her, as she gave me this gift. Today The Pleiades gave me another gift although I can’t put it in words.

journeys

 

**Not her real name of course.

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