Mentors and Muses

When I was about seventeen I sat across from someone in the waiting area for Bullocks Westwood lunchroom, and the memory has colored much of my life. She seemed very old to me at the time, but might actually have been in her sixties even though her hair was white. What struck me about her was that she had an open portfolio across her knees that contained pages of empty scores, and she was clearly composing music – looking off into the distance at times and then putting pen decisively to paper. I don’t remember who was with me, but this picture of an unknown older woman doing such a remarkable thing while waiting for a table has never left me. I recall very distinctly that I decided then that whatever my talent proved to be – and I wasn’t terribly sure at the time – I would pursue it in the same way that she pursued hers, at all times and in all places, and I would continue to do it no matter how old I might become. Sixty seemed near death at the time. How young it appears from my present vantage point. When I realized that I had two muses to satisfy I did indeed sketch or write poetry during concerts, at train stations and at the beach. I drew my children awake if willing or asleep if unwilling. Often a poem would appear when out walking. And I did a good deal of my research and writing of Daughter Of Winter while sitting in doctor’s waiting rooms when my husband was being diagnosed and treated for dementia. I recently ran upon two portraits of him that I did when he was in the early stages of this desease.

And over time there have been other persons who have struck me with their determination and focus. Few were actual teachers of mine; a number have been colleagues equally unaware as that woman at how much their presence in my life has meant to me. I have supported and praised their work, but have not yet found a way to adequately thank them for how they have changed me. At this point I am still discovering some of these mentors. There are too many to thank individually, but you will meet many of them within these pages.