This has been a sad and challenging year for my immediate Wells family. Cathleen Wells, my first wife, died in late August at age 60 of the cancer she had been fighting for three years. Bethany and Meghan, our children were there with her most of the summer and at her last moments. She was able to have a relatively healthy summer with her grandchildren as Meghan came over from Paris with her family for the whole summer. In late August things quickly turned serious for her and within a week she was gone. I got word and shot down to Los Angeles to arrive the day before she died.
We did our best to invite her community to a wake Cathleen herself requested in a letter to the children she left in 2000 saying something like: gather informally and raise a glass of champagne to me. So, about 70 good folk of all ages showed up from as far away as Florida, Oregon and San Francisco. We remembered, visited and ate good food. Then we turned on a microphone for whomever would like to speak. I estimate that about 25 or 30 sweet people came fourth, from young boys in the neighborhood to us older types.
We were touched deeply by the out flowing of emotion and I was totally amazed at the number of people whose lives were changed, inspired and illuminated by her presence in the world. There was hardly a dry eye.
In the sadness is great reflection and warm memories. The community that gathered and remembered was inspirational. The personal effect on us all is so full, the effect long lasting and meaningful.
Cathleen is survived by all these loving friends, her 90 year old mother, Eleanor Haburton, her daughters Meg and Betty and her two wonderful grandchildren, Emilien and Lucien.
My second wife Judith had the idea of making this year’s art an image of Cathleen. So this is a very youthful Cathleen with Bethany, her first born, as Madonna and Child. I was blessed with the long and fulfilling task of working on this image and was amazed at the memories and tenderness that showed up for me while I worked.
Death is so much more than sorrow, that’s one thing I’ve learned. Community, support, giving and receiving, self realization, remembrance, the significance of our time here and our love for one another has all come poignantly home for me.
Wishing you all warm holidays and close relationships,