Mother would proudly tell you she is in her 90th year, although she has not yet made her 90th birthday, but she cannot fathom how she ever got to be so old.
Mom was born Laurel Joyce Lamb in Sandwich (Windsor), many moons ago and married the boy about five houses down from where she lived.
Their marriage vows, especially the ‘in sickness’ part, really came into play when Dad developed Addison’s disease, which at the time was terminal. But then a new experimental drug, cortisone was developed which kept Dad alive. The drug was difficult to regulate and he was scheduled to die for years, but some how he stayed alive and fought to support her and two wee children.
He was not the same man she married and it was years before Dad’s health settled down, which of course allowed her and our lives to be more normal. Mom tried various, out of the home, jobs to supplement the erratic pay check, like Beauty Councillor (make up) and selling mutual funds. I recall her as the typical house wife of the 1950 and 60s; who seemed so much Mrs. Anderson on Father Knows Best and Mrs. Cleaver from Leave It To Beaver. She made our clothes, knitted and baked and in our house was the fix it person. Best thing you could give Mom for her birthday or Christmas was a power tool!
Her Christian faith kept life in perspective, got her through the terrible years and inspired her in the good years.
One other thing Mom has always loved is painting. It still doesn’t matter if it is wall or a canvas, put a paint brush in her hands and she is a happy woman. I remember when it was time to load up the car to go to the cottage, her paint kit and easel and an assortment of homemade canvases would have to be packed. And coming home you had to be so careful how you placed the still-wet oil painting in the overflowing car. Actually that hasn’t changed at all; just last summer we had to be careful of her wet painting when we brought her home!
Whenever possible Dad would sneak the cost of Mom going to an art course for a few days in the summer, often in Tweed, Ont., and she’d come home with a new style. One of the most striking style changes was using a knife to lay paint on the canvas rather than dabbing or brushing. It was a superb technique for mountains and very dramatic, rugged rocks.
Once, Dad and I were roped into sitting as models for an art course she took. (No, not nudes, although she did learn that as well. No, we just had to sit still forever.) Dad always called the painting of himself, ‘Frankie Ferocious.’
Another art form Mom tried was modeling in clay and although she only did a few busts they were very good. I think creating those three dimensional figures is what made her portrait painting so very good. She understood the physiology beneath the skin and could draw a figure proportionately.
When Mom and Dad would head off on a little trip, even a cruise, where lugging the paints was not feasible, a small watercolour tray, pad of paper and pencils, usually got tucked into the suitcase.
Mom’s painting canvases got gigantic when she joined Windsor Light Opera and did backdrops about 20’ x 40’ and slightly smaller ones after moving to Tillsonburg. It was always a fun to work with Mom painting Camelot, Austrian Alps or London, England in WWII. I’d sign the drops Laurel & Laurel.
One of my fondest memories of Mom painting was loading up the Red Witch, our very old wooden boat, with her paints, easel, supplies, water, probably an apple or two and the dog. She would set off down Bear Lake and be gone for hours. Sometimes we would go to visit a friend and we would boat by, seeing the Witch on the shore with no sign of Mom, as she had trucked everything to the top of the rocky hill to get just the right scene. Other times she would stay in the boat, toss out the anchor, and paint that special rocky shore line or the old weathered, white pine on the point, all gnarly and wind blown.
Mom is still painting today. She just finished a small painting of a fawn tentatively investigating a bird bath. For over 60 years she has been painting. She used to sell her work at Art In The Park in Windsor; do commission paintings and gave away others as birthday, wedding and special occasion gifts. She also gave art lessons.
Although most paintings are gone, there is a stack of 30 or more that she has done still at home. At this time of her life, she is trying to get rid of things she is not using; but what to do with these works of art which are such a part of her?
Well, Mom’s giving nature shines through once more. She will be having an art show and sale at Saturday, June 7 between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. (noon), at St. John’s Anglican Church Hall on Ridout St. West, Tillsonburg.
The proceeds of the sale of all her art, will go to St. John's "Kindle the Flame" building renewal campaign. Most of the paintings are landscapes, but a few of her travels are represented by a castle, stone staircase in the Caribbean, and an old farmer. Everyone is welcome to come, browse, visit and buy a work of art.
Mom, will be on hand to greet you and answer questions about her work during the sale.