A couple of weeks ago I had a really interesting day. It started out like so many other days. Got up, went to work at St. John’s Episcopal School where I have been teaching for 27 years, went to chapel and then taught 1st period. After 1st period I had arranged to take our 8th grade class on a field trip down to Saint Matthew’s Episcopal Cathedral here in Dallas where I am having a show of my art work. My fellow 8th grade teachers gave up their classroom time and joined us on our little field trip.
I haven’t done that in a while but I love sharing my art work so my students see that Art is not something I just teach, but live and breath. Standing before the earliest piece in the show, I started by telling a story about something I hadn’t thought about in a very long time. I hadn’t planned to tell this story….it was totally off the cuff and it just starting rolling out of my mouth.
“I have some sweet memories about being in this room. When I was in junior high school, the youth group from St. John’s and all the youth groups from all the Episcopal churches in the Dallas diocese would come down here to the Cathedral once a month for movie night. One particular movie night I took my first girl friend, Cindy Barrow and we saw the movie “Cat Ballou,” the 1965 comedy Western musical film starring Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin. Sort of a funny choice for a movie night for young teenagers.
That night during the movie which was held in this exact room, I leaned over and kissed Cindy. It was my first kiss.”
I then got a collective ahhhhhh from the girls and women in the crowd.
I then spoke about the work in the show and my career as an artist.
What are the chances?
Before we left, someone suggested that we take the group of 8th graders into St. Matthew’s beautiful Sanctuary As we were going down a narrow hallway, a woman happen to step out of an office and she looked surprised and said, “Martin, you might not remember me but I am Cindy Barrow’s older sister Beth.” I was totally thrown……..after having just told that story. I mean I hadn’t thought of that story in 40 years.
It was a bittersweet moment because in our conversation I learned that Cindy had passed away in 2008 from a medical emergency during hurricane Ike.
That evening I was still buzzing from the events of the day and I called my mother to tell her about running into Cindy’s sister Beth. My mother reminded me that my father had painted a painting of Cindy when she was 13.
My mom still owns the painting and had been wanting to contact Beth because she wanted to offer her the painting of Cindy. Some where along the line my mother lost track of Beth. Since all this has transpired I have been back in contact with Beth and she will soon have the painting of Cindy.
I am still in awe how this all came to be. It was a proverbial aligning of the planets. Some people who I have told the story to have said, it’s a God thing.
There you go, a story both sad and bittersweet, but a story as sweet as a first kiss.