The Gift


    Most of us on any given day wake and go through the long list of “things” to do that make up our lives. I’m no exception.

    What do a do today? The list never seems to get shorter. Do I fix the doorbell, patch the hole in the roof, no can’t do that it’s raining, clean up the basement, drag the washing machine that has washed it’s last load to the scrapyard? But all of these are going to be set aside for another day.

    The phone rings this morning and the voice on the other end sadly says:”Aunt Marion has dies this morning”. She was 93. Aunt Marion was in many ways a very special person. She had what I would call a Mary Poppins personality.

    Her life was art. One of 9 brothers and sisters she began drawing and painting at an early The_Little_Folkage in the Saint John Catholic Convent, art was and became her life. Like many artists she was exploited and never made a lot of money, so her tools of the trade were very basic. Once when she was asked by another artist whose tools and paints were relatively extensive:”How do you do that, how did you come up with that colour”? She smiled her Mary Poppins smile and said: “Oh, I don’t know, I just mix a little of this and a little of that and this is what i get”. My Aunt Marion would get lost in the world of art, creating tiny, delicate masterpieces. I would look at some of them and ask: “How in hell did you do that”. The response and smile was always the same.

    Her artistic talents were not limited to painting, in earlier years she would enter her incredible delicate detailed quilts in the ANE competition and….. usually win FIRST PRIZE.

    Back in the early nineties I presented her with a challenge, I commissioned her to do an oil painting of the Saint John waterfront from a small sepia tone postcard from Wilson Studio. A month or so later she presented me with an unsigned 24 by 36 oil painting. She told me it was the most difficult piece that she had ever done because she didn’t have the liberal use of colours that artists use to give painting life. She told me the painting was unsigned because it was a copy, not an original. Some years later i asked the owner of the Wilson collection if it was ok if Marion signed the painting and with his blessing she did.  When folks visit us quite often they remark that it’s a nice photograph of market Square in the 1800’s. I tell then no it’s a painting and as they look closer they are amazed at the subtle tones and detail.



    Some years later still in art mode Aunt Marion decided that she wanted to go into “production” and make some Christmas ornaments for Rhoda’s Christmas event to earn extra money. She asked me if I could make some small wooden pine 5 inch by 5 inch blanks that she could use as mounting boards. I spent a couple of hours cutting and sanding the wooden blanks. After I had filled a medium size box I though, there: “That will keep her out of trouble for a couple weeks”. To my surprise come the first of the week she had transformed every singe blank into a Christmas scene complete with tiny wrapped presents, Santa’s and all things “Christmasy” I asked her: “Are you crazy, did you sleep at all”? Aunt Marion’s response was always pretty much the same a smile and a twinkle in her eye.

    As the years ticked by one by one the artist painted less and less as arthritis took it’s toll on her once tireless gifted hands. Aunt Marion’s hands were gifted however Aunt Marion was a gift to all of us. She never wanted much from life, just to paint, be happy,content and to share her creations with all.

    Today and tomorrow as we all go about our busy lives there is much we can learn from Aunt Marion.



    1. What a wonderful and very thoughtful tribute to our Aunt Marion, she was always trying to do for others and yes she loved her world of creating, painting and many other talents that she had. She will always be remembered.