Tom's Corner


Discovering Today
by
Tom Irons

Chapter 7 (part two)
Tucson & Glass



       Once again I was experiencing a deep loss from my life. We talked it over long into the night and agreed, that against all future odds and roadblocks, we would maintain our friendship.


       September 1981 found me visiting another psychic. Unlike the first one, this lady didn’t have a clue about anything related to my life. For half an hour I sat and fidgeted while she spoke of astronomy, mirrors, and things I couldn’t bend into my existence. In thinking she might be misunderstanding the information coming to her I asked if she was describing beveling. To my disappointment, she denied the connection. When she finally ceased talking she asked, “Do you have any questions”.


       “ Do you see any women, any special woman, in my future?” I wondered.


       

       “Oh, yes.” She declared adamantly.


       

       “Great! What’s her name? What does she look like? How will I recognize her when we meet, and how long will this ‘friendship’ last?” I was anxious to know.


       “Soon, you’ll meet soon. Within the next few months. She’s quite lovely. Rubenesque. Yes, I’d describe her as Rubenesque. Do you know the term?” she asked. I assured her I did.


       “But what’s her name?” I queried once again, not wanting to have to rely on a vague description to recognize this promised lady.


       “I’m sorry but I don’t know,” She intoned sadly, shaking her head. Then her blue-gray eyes widened. As she stared at me, they seemed to shine with a new light. “But her initials are C. H. I think. Yes, I’m sure of it…. C.H…” Her wrinkled, wizened face took on a glow as the light in her eyes spread across her features. Her demeanor was of someone proud of herself. I think she was truly surprised and pleased to be of some help to a single man who was seeking reassurance and friendship.


       



       


       Two months later, Dolly Parton was belting out “9 To 5” on the shop radio when a little red Honda car rolled tentatively up the drive and stopped. Dolly’s volume drowned out the sound of the little two-door runabout. The young woman who emerged from the car took in the desert surrounding her. She appreciated the natural undergrowth and the valley-to-mountain views. Had it not been for the low twang of the country singer emanating from the cheap radio, she would have appreciated the silence, too.


       Retrieving the piece of plate glass from the car’s trunk, she turned to face the block building. She realized there was no apparent entrance, no front door, and no sign directing the way inside.


       “Hello, you’re looking lost. Can I help?” came a voice from her left. Glancing toward the sound of the voice, the young woman saw a short man dressed in tattered, cutoff, blue jeans. He was holding a dirty coffee cup in one hand and wearing a welcoming, gentle smile.


       “Hi. My sister, Annie Boice, said I could get some beveling done here?” she stated doubtfully. Approaching the diminutive person she started to extend her hand but at the last minute she thought better of it and offered the plate glass instead. The piece of glass was large and unwieldy for her, and she did not like handling it.


       “I’m Jack,” said the little gnome while accepting the glass. Holding it up to gain the benefit of the light he intoned, “Oh, that’s pretty. Did you do this?” Then as an afterthought he yelled toward the interior of the shop, “Hey, Tom, come look at this.”


       In a moment I stepped around the corner to see what the excitement was. Jack still held the glass up. Turning it so that I could view it, he said, “ Look at this.” I glanced at the etching, but was more interested in the attractive woman.


       “Hi, I’m Tom.” I extended my hand to grasp the pretty young lady’s in mine. Tall, I thought. Tall and attractive.


       “Jeanie Aspen. Pleased to meet you.”


       We invited her into our shop and proudly gave her a tour- as we did everyone who made the trek down the dirt road and up into our desert foothills. She explained how we had done some beveling for her sister and how she had almost turned around and headed back home after seeing our road deteriorate before her eyes.


       The sandblasting, she explained, had been done in Mary Meyer’s studio. Jeanie had taken an etching class from Mary. When Jack pointed out the scratches on her glass she told us how she had salvaged it from a trash bin at Tucson Glass and Mirror. The cost was right. Then we gave her a quick litany of what we’d learned about scratches: dirty rags can scratch glass, rough hands can scratch glass, handling glass during beveling can scratch glass, laying glass down on most surfaces can scratch it, and many more.


       We assured her that we could do the beveling but would accept no responsibility for damage; that it was far more desirable to have us do the beveling before she did the sandblasting since it was possible for an accident to happen while beveling. “I’ll take the chance. Can I wait for it? I don’t want to have to make that drive again. Annie didn’t tell me you lived halfway to Yuma.”


       We told her, yes, she could wait but it would take quite a while, as beveling was a slow process (especially if we took the time and care to not scratch it).


       Wandering around the room as I started to do the initial grinding on her glass she noticed a pattern on one of our worktables. “What’s this supposed to be, an owl or a seagull?” She’d just hit us where it hurt. We had paid a so-called artist good money for that pattern but neither Jack nor I liked the end result. It was supposed to be a red-tailed hawk in full flight and it represented a much needed glass commission and income for us. Not being happy with the design, we had drug our heels in starting to cut glass for the panel.


       Over the roar of the large horizontal grinder I was using to start the beveled edge on her glass, Jack explained our dilemma, adding, that she was welcome to improve on it if she wanted to. By the time I had finished the first stage of the bevel Jeanie had redrawn the red-tail and it was beautiful. While she helped Jack choose what glass to use, he offered her the chance to be our sub-contractor artist but she said she was working with her sister and didn’t know how Annie would feel about the idea.


       Earlier, I had taken time to put a chicken and some vegetables in a crock-pot and turn it on low in anticipation of dinner. There was a green tossed salad in the refrigerator and a case of Charles Krug wine in the pantry. By the time Jack had put the finishing polish on her glass it was quitting time and the chicken had started to fill the studio with the warm odor of domestic competence. I had always taken my food seriously.


       “So what’s for dinner?” Jeanie asked.


       “Chicken and a green salad if you want to stay.” I said with surprise. “And if you like wine, I have some California rose` that I really enjoy.”


       In the evening after dinner I escorted her up to the peak of the roof where we sat and watched the sun slowly slide behind the hills to the west. Nighthawks and bats flitted through the evening sky while quail scurried about making their evening sounds of squabble and upset. When the coyotes started singing their high-pitched yowls and screams we looked at each other, and smiled.


       We talked late into the night, polished off a lot of wine, and became friends up there on the rooftop. Both of us acknowledged that the other wasn’t really ‘the one’ but we could at least be friends until our ‘right’ one came along.


       For me, Jeanie Aspen, did not translate to C.H., initials-wise. And for Jeanie, I wasn’t the tall, dark, professional, college graduate she was seeking. Friendship would have to be enough for us.


       She did decide to stay the night, however. Within a few short weeks she decided to move in and save herself the drive to and from Caliche Acres.


       The living area had been small for one person to call a home and for two it was minuscule, but we somehow managed to live and even to thrive.


       I dug a toilet hole in the backyard, poured a concrete slab around it and erected a tin shed to house it. Then, I built a large wooden throne with two seats and ran electricity down the path for a light and an exhaust fan. I considered it all very much ‘up town’ and fancy. Certainly an improvement over the chemical toilet I had used up to this time.


       Jeanie quickly took over all kitchen duties while I, at her request, started reading aloud as she prepared meals or cleaned up the dishes afterwards. This was a new and fun concept for me, which gave true meaning to the term ‘sharing a book’. In June of 1982 the fourth book we would read out loud was Richard Bach’s wonderful little story entitled, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah. Published in 1977, I wondered why I had not come across it sooner. In the handbook (of Donald Shimoda) I read to Jeanie the statement:


“Argue
for your limitations,
and sure enough’
they’re yours.”


       


       This concept captivated me. It was so clear, so concise, and so true. “How often,” I asked Jeanie, “have you run across someone who had the potential, the capability, to do what they want with their life but they don’t because they get something out of failing?”


       After reading this I could never again argue against myself, or my ability, to accomplish that which I set out to do without consciously realizing that I was limiting myself.


       It wasn’t until after New Years that I related to Jeanie the story of the psychic I had visited. When I told her about the initials C.H., she was silent a moment then said in a subdued voice, “When I was born I was named Constance Jean Helmericks.”


       Looking at her and seeing her in a new light, I replied, “So you must be the one.”


       



       


       By 1982, the three of us had found a sort of rhythm in the studio. Our conversations usually included stories of our earlier lives, good-natured kidding, and laughter. Jeanie’s artistic abilities supported by Jack’s and my technical know-how had already produced some stunning glasswork. The only down-side was that we had little actual income to share.


       “Jeanie and I have been discussing the possibility of driving back to see my Mother,” I told Jack one beautiful June morning over coffee. “It would be fun to do a little traveling and maybe miss some of the coming summer heat.”


       Jack was immediately certain that was a great idea. “As soon as we finish that last commission we won’t have anything else on our tables and probably won’t until September. Tucson shuts down through the summer. Sure. Go have fun. I’ll watch the shop.” Then, slurping on the hot caffeine in his ceramic cup he added wistfully, “Do you have any room for me?”


       “Not a chance. We’re taking Jeanie’s car. No room, but it gets twice the mileage my truck gets.”


       And that settled the issue of a summer vacation for us. I was full of anticipation and eagerness when we turned out of the driveway and into the early morning sun. Two days later found us cruising east through Kansas on state route 54, following signs to the ‘world’s largest hand-dug well’.


       Cheap, rundown motels with sagging mattresses and drippy fauceted showers were our nightly havens until we reached Kansas City and my sister, Nancy’s, home.


       In Blanchester a week later Jeanie met, with a fair degree of trepidation, my Mother, Alice, and Frances. Then it was back on the road east to Binghamton, New York where it was my turn to meet some of Jeanie’s relatives. After a short visit we headed the little red car toward Massachusetts and my brother Fred’s, where we ate lobster at Jeanie’s request. After a few days of visiting we hit the long road back home to Tucson where Jack, the studio, and raging monsoons awaited our arrival.


       The prediction of little glasswork had been far too accurate, but Jack was glad to have us return. He had found having the studio all to himself had been fun for “A couple of days but then it got pretty quiet.”


       On the second day after our return, an afternoon monsoon tore the roofing from the studio. Hundreds of pounds of tarpaper, mineral surface asphalt, roofing tar, and nails came slamming down toward Jeanie as she squatted, arms over her head for protection, on the little front porch. We had been standing watching the storm when the ripping of the roof made us both believe that a lightning strike was eminent. The ripping, rending sound of tortured roofing raised the hair on our arms and the backs of our necks. Looking skyward, I saw the roof rise up over the parapet and start its’ deadly plummet toward us. Reaching for Jeanie, intending to pull her back inside the studio to safety, I was surprised to find her gone, no longer standing in front of me. She had dropped into a squatting position. Quickly I stooped down and grabbed her shoulders and jerked her backward into the room just as the roof landed where she had been milliseconds before.


       “What were you thinking of!” I demanded, while I tried to get my heart out of my throat and back down toward the vicinity of my chest. “You could have been killed!”


       “I thought there was going to be a lightning strike and wanted to get low. How did you know the roof was coming down?”


       “I just looked up and there it was filling the sky. I couldn’t miss it. Then I grabbed for you and you were gone. One minute right in front of me and then, poof, gone. I couldn’t believe it when I glanced down and saw you in a duck and cover position. I thought that went out in the sixties.”


       “Well,” she said in a voice mixed with righteous indignation and tinged with embarrassment, “I wasn’t going to just stand there and get hit.”


       “Oh yes you were, ducking or not, you’d have been mush if I hadn’t grabbed you.”


       “How did you know to look up?” she wanted to know.


       “Well, looking out didn’t tell me anything and you had down covered, so up was the natural choice, I guess,” I kidded.


       For the next hour or so rain poured into the studio through the plywood roofing and the fiberglass insulation. Everything in the studio was thoroughly wet. I was devastated. I could only see this as a testament to my lack of construction knowledge.


       Going to bed that night I was sick at heart, discouraged like I’ve never been before and just plain overwhelmed with the mess of the studio. Books, paper, patterns, tools, equipment, insulation, walls; everything was a sodden mess.


       “It’s ok, Tom,” Jeanie assured me, “it will all dry out and we’ll clean it up. It wasn’t your fault.”


       The following day we were up early and had coffee on the little gas camp stove when Jack arrived. I ran to town with a list of materials needed to accomplish the re-roofing. We worked all day through the 100 degree plus heat drinking gallons of water. We knew to keep our heads covered and we wore sunglasses. Still, by early afternoon, we were experiencing weakness, dizziness, headaches, muscle cramps, and nausea. Through it all, like my father would have done, I sweated profusely. Drawing near completion and racing against another afternoon monsoon, which was building menacingly in the southeastern sky, Jeanie said, “Keep drinking water and be careful. We’ve all got signs of heat stroke and dehydration.”


       As I was driving home the last row of nails raindrops the size of seedless grapes began slamming into the back of my head. Each drop had a seed of ice in it and they stung like the dickens but their coolness was heavenly. As the rain and wind battered the studio the three of us stretched out full-length on the cool concrete slab in utter exhaustion.


       “Think it’ll be blown off again today?” Jeanie asked. “I mean, isn’t the asphalt emulsion supposed to be allowed to cure before getting rained on?”


       “It better not blow away. I don’t have the money to buy the materials, let along the energy to climb that ladder again.” I admitted mournfully.


       “I think it’ll be fine,” said Jack, ever the optimist.


       We had done nothing different in our re-roofing but the roof never again got blown away. That storm was my first experience of being in the path of a microburst. In the ensuing days and weeks, I learned that the University of Arizona had lost roofs on a number of its’ buildings and there was a swath of homes to our north and south that had lost roofs. Eight million dollars worth of damage had been done throughout Pima County by the storm. We had actually been lucky when one took into consideration what could have been.


       As the weeks and months drifted past, the relationship that Jeanie and I were creating slowly ground to a standstill. It was apparent that we were headed nowhere. Still shy of the marriage commitment, I was not altogether unhappy with the status quo- but Jeanie saw it as unproductive and unsatisfying. In one of our quiet evening conversations, she announced, “I want to give you a gift.”


       “Really? What?” I asked with surprise and interest.


       “I checked the other day and found out that there is a weekend workshop being given in a couple of weeks. It’s one I took a while back and I found it very worthwhile.”


       “If it has anything to do with EST, you know I’m not interested.” When Jeanie asked “Why?” I went explained that when I was in California one of my friends had been considered attending the Erhard Seminars Training (EST). Started in 1971, the training’s purpose was to offer a way for an individual to change their experience of life by changing the way they looked at themselves and others; the way they experienced life. My disdain of the program lay not in its intentions but in the exorbitant cost and the nazi methods employed by the EST-ies to sign up attendees. I had also heard tales of the methods employed in the seminars.


       “Well, it’s not EST. It’s called ‘The Celebration’ and it’s taught by a man named Ray Stubbs.”


       “What does he teach?”


       “There’s a lot to it. I think you’ll like it, and maybe learn a lot. It consists of four sessions; Thursday evening, Friday evening, all day Saturday and all day Sunday.”


       “What will I learn? And what does it cost?”


       “Well, everyone tends to get something different from the weekend. It’s sort of based on the concept that you learn that which you most need to learn.”


       “How much does it cost?” I persisted.


       “I don’t know what it costs now, but whatever it is I’ll pay for it. It’s a gift to you.”


       “Do we do this together or am I going alone?”


       “It’s an individual sort of thing. We can take it together but it is meant as a personal workshop. I think you’ll enjoy it. You deal with death, spirituality, your own body, communication, and all sorts of life’s aspects. When I took it some of the exercises were done in the nude.”


       We continued to discuss the idea of taking the workshop and ultimately I agreed to give it a try. After being assured that one can learn different things in each group of people, I agreed that Jeanie should partake of the workshop with me. I didn’t know at the time just how greatly this would change my life and our relationship.


       Indeed, there was nudity. In fact almost the entire workshop was conducted in the nude. After Dr. Stubbs had taught us his communication tools and we had committed to following his rules he moved into the areas of sexuality, sensuality, and intimacy. Then it was on to death, spirituality and our bodies. Near the end of the workshop Sunday evening, he managed to bring all of these diverse things together for us. It was a very powerful, mind-and-body altering experience.


       From that weekend on, Jeanie and I shared a unique ability to communicate with each other. We have also shared the memory of the intense feelings of being in that workshop. In this experience, we formed the foundation for a stronger and more powerful relationship; one built on love, honesty, and creativity.


       



       


       By January 1983, Jack and I had worked together six days a week for much of the last three and a half years. We had created a lot; the largest glass studio in southern Arizona, the first hand beveling operation in the entire state, a home for me, and a close friendship between us. But there were dark clouds on our horizon. In retrospect, I think the closeness that had been built up between Jack and me was a source of upset for Liz. Furthermore, I believe she was making Jack pay for our friendship.


       Jack, in dealing with the tension at home, began to exhibit habits deemed unacceptable to Jeanie and I. In my narrow-mindedness, I failed to see or understand the clues laid before me. Possibly it was my arrogance that caused me to fail to respond, as a true friend should have. Whatever the reason, Jack and I seemed to constantly be sniping at one another. He’d push and I’d poke, he’d jab and I’d prod. We both seemed to skirt the real issues and ignore the needs of the other.


       As the days went by, Jeanie and I drew closer while Jack and I moved further apart. For a while, Jeanie and I tried to boost him up and support him. As weeks passed we both realized that although he continually asked us to tell him how to fix his troubles, he was not willing to make any of our recommended changes. We began a divergent path and, like many divorces, it ultimately came down to issues of finance. Jack was caught up in the costly desire to make mirrors. Initially when I understood just how important this issue was for him, I had insisted that if he were to do it we needed to have a clean, safe, designated room to house the large acid bath which mirroring required. I then spent weeks building a two-room addition on the east end of the studio to house this endeavor. Next, I grudgingly approved the cost of new spray nozzles. Due to the Hunt brothers making an international raid on silver during this time, chemicals used to produce mirrors had increased in cost ten-or twenty-fold.


       I considered mirroring an expensive, time-consuming hobby and not worth the money or effort. Art glass, big commissions, and unique works of our own were the way, in my estimation, for us to increase our income. I knew that with Jeanie’s ability to design, we could create anything; there was nowhere we couldn’t go with our glasswork. Imagine my surprise when Jack announced that he didn’t want big commissions, that he wanted us to stay small, do little jobs like we’d been doing for the past four years. From there, our relationship spiraled downward like a plane that lost one wing in flight. We decided it was time to split up our assets.



“30 June (1983) As of today Jack and I split the equity in Sunset Bevels w/ him taking the beveling and silvering & me keeping most of the tools & inventory. I have a liquid cash worth of $1098.00 Also have AZ. Tx # as a sole propriotor[sic]. Jeanie & I plan to work as parteners[sic] in glass. I’m busy calling builders & decorators, etc. At this time we have no work or deposits. I do feel we have a lot of potential for income……..”


       


       Jack had taken all the beveling and silvering equipment, his personal hand tools, table, stove, and compressor. I had kept my hand tools, the tables and glass inventory- which we figured was approximately equal in dollar value to that which Jack took. From this division we put an equal dollar value on each ‘half’ of the business. Then, Jack became Prohaska Beveling and Silvering; a division of Sunset Bevels. Jeanie and I became Aspen Irons Studio; a division of Sunset Bevels. As the phone was physically located in the studio, I got to keep the number and would refer anyone who called wanting bevels or silvering to Jack. He was supposed to refer any requests for stained glass he might get to us. We maintained these two businesses, separately, for two years.


       In February of 1983, Jeanie had submitted a design for the Tucson Medical Center chapel’s stained glass window. I thought we had arrived in the big leagues.


       In October 1983, Jeanie decided she wanted to buy a new car and went looking for a loan. She had maintained a savings account with DM Credit Union for a number of years and expected that they would loan her the money that she needed but she was wrong. This was a major experience of financial denial for her, and she came home angry, embarrassed, and belittled. Tears ensued. I didn’t improve matters with my impromptu lecture on the importance of establishing a good credit base for one’s self or with my offer to simply call up my credit unionme she wanted. No, that was not a good idea. Ultimately the real reason behind her upset finally emerged. It came down to this: “I want to get married!”


       So while she sat on my lap, in our little brick-pavered kitchen, we discussed the viability of our relationship and decided, yes, we could give it a try. But there was one issue I had to have agreement on: should we ever decide to divorce, I would be able to keep enough of the property such that I could build myself a place on the south end of the five acres where I could live for as long as I wanted to. I didn’t want to repeat the fiasco of my first divorce where I ultimately lost almost everything.


       With that settled, we began steps for tying the knot. Jeanie wanted a big church wedding, having never had one of that caliber. I voted for doing the deed at a community potluck dinner or better yet, simply heading off to Las Vegas. I did not want friends and family buying gifts. Both of us agreed that we need not spend lavishly on the occasion, but simply do that which would give us joy and a touchstone of meaning to our marriage.


       We wrote our vows, chose the Church of Religious Science for the site of the ceremony, invited Jeanie’s extended family, a very few select friends, my niece, Molly and her friend to attend the service.


       Wearing a white dress with small flower designs, bobbles on ribbons and frills, and sporting a halo of miniature flowers in her hair, Jeanie was beautiful beyond words. The dress and my shirt were gifts of Annie, Jeanie’s sister. The only thing that overshadowed the pretty clothing was our shining happy faces.


       As guests entered the sanctuary, Jeanie and I stood on each side of the door handing out a single rose bud to everyone. Once the guests were seated we took our place on the dais steps where we sat with Fredrick Patchen, the minister.


       At the conclusion of the service, we invited all to join us at the studio where the community was gathering for a potluck dinner, unaware of our wedding plans.


       November 18th, 1983: just two years and one day after we had met, we were officially married.


Tom
18 Novovember 1983

       


       July 2nd, 1984, Aspen Irons Studio submitted an updated proposal to TMC for the stained glass chapel window. This proposal was immediately accepted and on July 6th we received the agreed upon 50% deposit to start work: a buying trip to California to buy 3,000 pounds of glass, making 27 templates, construction of a prototype panel (which the hospital insisted on buying from us and using in their ground-breaking ceremony), and creation of the 27 patterns for the panels.


       The actual work of producing the panels for the window required 1100 hours spanning 12 months. The magnitude of the project was staggering, yet Jeanie and I were thrilled to have such a challenge and such a large palette to create with. The project definitely energized us but we would also discover a new and greater level of stress that came with the demands of large commissions.


       In 1985, after collecting the second half of the TMC commission, I made Jack a cash offer on the beveling equipment. He had just recently completed schooling to become a counselor and could use the money for bills plus he no longer needed glasswork as he had a full time job doing counseling for the state, I think. Anyway, he accepted my offer and I reclaimed the equipment my money had bought when we were building up the business.


       



       


February 25, 1986


       From the wheeled trays holding newborn life came a screech and squall not unlike angry banshees. Each new voice proclaimed “I am, come worship me, attend to my needs, come…”


       The nurse with the painted nails and impossibly long fake eyelashes glared at my fatherly stubbornness. Body language speaks more clearly than words, and her crossed arms and bunched jaw muscles spoke a mouthful. Her voice had started out cajoling; soft and syrupy, but now I knew she was trying hard to stifle anger and upset.


       “Well,” I said in a voice I hoped was the right mix of friendliness and firmness, “if you can’t grant me permission, please locate someone who can.”


       Lovingly, proudly, protectively I kept my newborn son enfolded in my arms; arms so tired they were vibrating at mega-speed. Rocking up on the outer edges of my shoes to relieve the pain in my feet from standing on tile floors for the past 36 hours, I hummed Willy Nelson’s version of the “City of New Orleans” to my new boy.


       Silently the nurse wheeled away, leaving a tangible cloud of anger hanging in the air as her rigid back exited the nursery. My son and I ignored her.


       I wondered, where were all the other fathers? Why weren’t they here with their new sons, and new daughters? Maybe they were resting, celebrating, or offering prayers and sacrifice of thanksgiving?


       “What seems to be the trouble here?” I turned to discover a tall, stern, and obviously very important female standing before me.


       Ignoring her disapproving tone I replied, “There’s no trouble. It seems I want something that’s against hospital policy. I understand you might be able to grant exceptions to those policies. So, I simply want to figure out a compromise that will allow me to get what I want.”


       Arched eyebrows bent even higher as squiggle lines furrowed her forehead. I almost detected a twinkle in her eye; or was that wishful thinking?


       “And what is it that you want?”


       “Well, me and my boy want to walk down to the chapel”….. as I said these words, my mind flashed back to the day the chapel was dedicated. It was a warm, satisfying memory of a day when my new son’s mother and I stood ever so proud and happy. We had just discovered that we were going to be new parents. It was also the day that along with our art, we stood in the limelight of family, the staff of TMC, and the surrounding community.


       I had tried for three years to land a commission with a church. What I discovered was that if a glass studio has never done work for a church, that studio will not be considered by the glass committee for a commission. This is the painful catch-22 of the art glass world. So, when the architect introduced Jeanie as “the artist who will be designing your window” to the fourteen-member stained glass committee at the Tucson Medical Center in 1983, she returned from the meeting elated.


       The project consisted of one arched window nineteen feet high and sixteen feet wide. The committee had given Jeanie a sheet and a half of paper with their desires. Basically, they wanted a design that was spiritual but not religious, nor should it contain any specific symbols of any individual religion. They wanted to allow a person, of any faith and this included an atheist, the ability to experience his or her personal religious or spiritual beliefs while in the chapel.


       Within the week Jeanie had created a design that would be unanimously accepted by the committee and her offer of creating a large watercolor of the design to be used on a fund raising brochure was met with high enthusiasm.


       Sitting in the back of the sanctuary holding my son and watching his eyes move about the colorful and serene art, I took a deep peace-filled breath and slowly exhaled. The window may have taken us 1100 hours to complete, but it had taken four times that to reach this point in my boy’s development. There was a lifetime remaining of creating for this child, who would become a man. The idea was almost too much to comprehend.


       Thus we sat and thought our own thoughts, and I watched him as he drifted off to sleep in my arms for the first, but not the last, time.


Tucson Medical Center Chapel
1985




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