My mother sighed a lot. She pulled on high heeled boots and a big furry hat like the one singers and movie stars wore. She was beautiful, with short brown hair and pink lipstick. She said, "we're taking today off," and with that, piled me, my two sisters and the dog into the car.

We arrived at my mother's best friends home and art studio. Rosalind's own daughter was a year younger than me. She wasn't missing school. Their place was chaotic and strange, with a daybed in the living room, paint literally everywhere, and various sized oil canvases, piled and stacked against every wall. I never knew what to do with myself. No television. No barbies. So I just sat down and watched these women.

Mom slumped down on the daybed. She said, "When will it stop?"

Roz said, "Don't move. I'm gonna paint you."

The sun now filled the big bay window that overlooked the wild Atlantic ocean. Most first graders were likely hearing about the assassination of Dr. King while putting away their math books. They probably heard how he was a great man, and this was a terrible thing. But I watched something else. Mom just sat there, and Roz (because we called Rosalind, "Roz"), painted the hat, and her bright green eyes, her shoulders, and crumpled body using the colors on her insides. It was amazing. The light stretched beneath Roz's brush, making these two women tall as they stretched across the floor and later up the walls. While they spoke, a painting grew, and by sunset, the painting included a rainbow and a small green bird. I think it was that bird that made me realize, they both had a plan for peace. They had worked it out, how they would make it stop.

That was the first important day in my life. I learned that women change things. A painting transformed grief to radiant power and a plan for peace.

In memory of Rosalind Farbush Raffe

1928 - 2012


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