Mother’s Day Paintings

Racing down a desert highway in July 2002, I made a secret wish and threw a coin out the window. At that same moment, Dina – sitting in the passenger seat next to me, made a wish and threw a coin out her window into the summer heat.

We didn’t tell each other what we wished for. Wishes are like that. But I wished for a daughter and a son.

In May 2004 we were expecting a little girl…Sophia was born July 10 that year. I figured it would be ok to share a hint of what I wished for in a painting. Dina and I have always loved the colors of the desert, and always looked back at that Arizona roadtrip in 2002. So for Dina’s very first Mother’s Day May 2004, I painted this painting of the Arizona landscape, with 2 coins shining in the sun.

When I presented it to her and said “Happy Mother’s Day”, she immediately started crying. She said, “How did you know that’s what I wished for? Did you wish for the same thing I did?” Turns out we’d both made the same wish. Sophia was born in July 2004, and then in May 2007 Ralph Jr was born. Our two wishes had come true.

We always told the kids, “We wished for you both when we were on a roadtrip in Arizona.” Over and over we told them the story of how we threw the coins out the window and wished for them. The painting hung in our living room. We also told them we’d take them to Arizona someday. In March 2014 we did.

On that trip they got to see the Grand Canyon for the first time and many other great sights. Of course, this time, all four of us threw coins out the window and made wishes. And that was the subject of the next painting we did for Mother’s Day, except this time Ralph Jr, Sophia helped me paint it.

Somewhere along the line Dina had discovered the Y Guides program which opened the door to years of amazing camping experiences, which allowed me to take the kids camping. Its a wonderful program and I highly recommend it. Only problem was Camp Seagull – probably the best camp of the year – nearly always fell on Mother’s Day weekend. Year after year, Dina told us to go, and just be back to celebrate Sunday afternoon. We owed her bigtime for this, and we knew it.

Well in 2015 we decided to surprise her. We got up at 4am, packed our sleeping bags and fishing poles, left Camp Seagull and drove back to Chapel Hill. We stopped to pick up flowers and breakfast at the 24hr Harris Teeter and presented her with the painting that Ralph Jr, Sophia and I had done together. If you look closely in the lower right corner you’ll see 4 coins from our 2014 Arizona roadtrip, and if you look over in the left corner you’ll see the original 2 coins from the original 2002 roadtrip. I love how Sophia decided to write our names as clouds. Ralph Jr painted the cacti and I did the details here and there.

A year or two later Dina took a photo of Ralph Jr and Sophia walking the trail ahead of us at Mason Farm – one of our favorite places. She made a comment sometime in late 2017 “I’d love to have a painting of that photo for Mother’s Day.” Say no more. I set an alarm in Evernote to give us a month or so of work time. The three of us worked on the painting and gave it to Dina on Mother’s Day 2018. Today it hangs in our kitchen, just below the 2015 painting.

Which brings us to 2019, and the painting that we gave to Dina this year. This is from a photo taken probably 8 years ago or so, on a Mother’s Day, when we went to the one and only Carolina Inn for their epic Mother’s Day brunch. This was one of the interludes between the many picture taking moments, when they were just waiting in one of the parlors while Dina and her Mom talked. I was pacing slowly, looking at the old furniture and wall hangings, when I turned and saw Ralph and Sophia standing there in this perfect moment.

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