Thursday, 20 October 2011

Favourite Things… Guest Post by my Dad, Fred Illies



"Three at Rest"
Kimberly Marten, 2002
Acrylic on Canvas

There's a bakery in Riverdale that I used to go to to get Indian food for lunch. As is common with many local restaurants, there were some paintings by a local artists hung on the wall behind the cash register as a makeshift gallery. The largest of these was called "Three at Rest" depicting a young mother, sleeping with her baby and the grandmother.

Every time I went into the bakery I was moved by the peace and love I saw in this beautiful painting. For me it became a symbol of the diversity and richness of the neighbourhood as it has blossomed over the years I've worked there. I eventually tried to buy it, but they said they couldn't get in touch with the artist. I was very disappointed, but no matter how many times I asked them, the reply was the same.

One Summer Saturday day when my wife Ali & I were in the neighbourhood, I took her to the bakery and said, "That is the painting I've been telling you about". She too fell in love with it.

A month or more later I stopped in at the bakery and was heartbroken to find the painting gone. I resigned myself to be grateful that I had experienced the painting and received so much joy & peace from having known it.

In September it was my birthday, and I was dumbfounded when I opened my present from Ali… it was the painting! "But how.." I asked. She then told me the story of how she went back to the bakery to buy the painting for my birthday. They told her the same thing: the artist was nowhere to be found so she couldn't buy it. Normally Ali would have said thank you and left, but not that day.

She told the young woman behind the counter that it didn't matter that they couldn't find the artist – Ali would pay the restaurant, take the painting, and when the artist finally DID get back in touch, they could give her the money. The young woman said she couldn't do that.

In an uncharacteristic move, Ali got the woman to call the owner right then, and Ali talked to him on the phone. She convinced him to accept her proposal, and thus the painting became my birthday present.

The painting sits on the fireplace mantle that I built, and it is the soul of our home. I took an apartment in Vancouver for work a few years later, and Ali stayed in our house in Toronto. I made a life-size reproduction of the painting and hung it in the loft in Vancouver… so I would feel the same peace and comfort. I'm back in Toronto now, and the painting continues to mean the world to me - it signifies Ali's deep and enduring love.

-fred illies




American Thanksgiving - 2007


Thanks for sharing this story, Dad! Xo

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Sara W, said...

That just melted my heart!! LOVE!!

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