December 12, 2013

Happy Birthday ...

Today, December 12, is the birthday of a very special man. A man who passed away ten years ago this month. And a hundred years too soon if you ask me.

His name is Paul and I've blogged about him several times. I wonder what he would have thought about that. I wonder what he would have thought about a lot of things.

He was a dear companion to my grandmother, who just turned ninety-two on December 9th. She lost her husband when she was just forty-nine years old and she met Paul a few years later. They had so many things in common, their love of dancing was just one of them. Paul became part of our family and an important influence in my life. He always came to our home for the holidays and it really made them so special. I remember waiting at the window for his black El Camino to pull up in front of the house - hoping for a rain-free forecast so we could take our beloved after-dinner hike. On sunny Easter Sundays he would take my brother and me to play tennis at a local college court. Holidays simply have not been the same without him. Those truly were the days. 

Paul was an artist. He owned and operated a sign shop in Providence for many, many years. He hand-painted everything himself. {I cannot imagine what he would think about graphic design}. He painted plaques for my brother and me with our names on them - I still have mine tucked away for forever-keeping. He made us walking sticks with our names painted on them - I'm certain I'd still have mine had my brother not tossed it into a river when I was little. He also gave me a set of very nice paintbrushes and numerous sketch pads when I was growing up. I recently used those very paintbrushes to paint the mural in Scarlett's room.

When Paul visited he always asked to see what I'd been drawing or writing. He offered his thoughts, critique and positive feedback. And he urged me to continue doing what I love - to keep sharpening my skills, to keep learning, trying and bettering. Mostly, to keep enjoying.

I admired Paul so much. He was smart as a whip, up to snuff on all current events and could spit the newspaper back to you. He loved to watch hockey and tennis. He loved to go dancing and watch real entertainers like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. He was active - exercising everyday - walking, jogging, playing tennis. He was creative - a very talented sketcher and painter. He was a sharp dresser, always classy and neat. He was kind. The most wonderful gifts that he gave were not wrapped in paper or tucked in an envelope. They are the gifts that last much longer than a doll or a fifty dollar bill. He gave me insight, inspiration, encouragement and love. He instilled a drive in me that will last forever. He was like a grandfather to me, a mentor and one of the most special people I've ever known.

Sometimes I feel like I should stop trying to sell my rinky-dink artwork. Or quit spending so much time trying to create a Christmas card that people will glance at just the same as a store-bought one. It's in that moment when I'm about to pull the plug that I feel his encouragement. It's like I can hear him saying Why give up doing something you love? Do it because you love to do it - don't worry what anyone else says of it. He keeps me moving forward. He gives me that little nudge, letting me know he's always in my corner.

Oh, how I miss him and how I wish he could have met my daughter. He would be so amazed by her. He had a genuine knack with children - he was never upset or impatient with us - and he was always smiling.

Rest in Peace, dear Paul. And Happy Birthday.
 (an ode to Paul Marzullo - forever in my heart)

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