“…artists are made different than anyone else…”
What a hard day..and a long one, he thought. The summer heat and humidity always turned roofing days into a special version of hell…but that’s one reason why he earned the big bucks, he thought with a tired smile. No matter the weather or the temperature – he got the job done. Although he owned a construction company, Janus Construction, there were times when just directing everyone was not satisfying. He liked to be in the midst of his men, driving them, joking with them, sweating with them, and building with them. Working and creating with his hands are the reasons he started the construction company in the first place, and the love of the craft is why his company held the well earned reputation of the best.
He turned the doorknob to his house and was surprised to see Copper sitting directly inside the door, waiting on him. “Copper, honey, waitin’ on dad?” he asked, as he set his briefcase down and put the mail on the table by the door. When Copper didn’t answer, he turned to his daughter and paused. Her white face and large, round eyes scared him. He squatted down in front of her and took her cold, shaking hands. His heart jumped, stopped, and then jerked again. Something was wrong.
“Dad, there is something wrong with Mom. She is crying again. She cries a lot. Ms. Berman, you know my psychology teacher? Well, today in her lecture she said those are signs of depression. The man in the news last week…you know Dad, the one who killed himself…suicide? He was depressed. Dad, I’m…..I’m worried. Why is Mom crying again?” Copper’s voice trembled and tears rolled down her face. Her dad’s heart hurt for his daughter’s pain….and misunderstanding. He knew he needed to handle this now.
Copper’s dad gently unbuckled the safety belts that held Copper in her motorized wheelchair. He put his arms around her, lifted her to his chest, and carried her to the living room. He settled on the couch and held her until her shoulders stopped shaking. After she calmed, he began. “Your mother is not depressed. I am not telling you this so you will feel better. It is the truth. When I first met your mother, she knew what I was thinking, without me saying a word. She sat on one side of the restaurant, in a group of friends, and I sat on the opposite side of the room. Sometimes the people between us moved, leaned in to hear a conversation, leaned back while they laughed, and I caught glimpses of her,” he reminisced while he hugged Copper and smiled at the scent of her hair. It smelled like her mother’s hair. “Her long gold hair caught my eye first and then her eyes. Your mother’s eyes are so unique…light sky blue. I looked at her and raised an eyebrow, because I wanted to meet her. She nodded her head and raised a hand. She put one finger up, and then put her finger and thumb together…which meant ten minutes. Every so often, I would smiled, then she smiled; I laughed, then she laughed; we spoke without ever speaking, it went on for a while…way past ten minutes and when we finally stood face to face…well, my heart already belonged to her. This was before I ever spoke one word to her,” he finished with a smile.
Copper lifted her head from her dad’s chest and said, “How did she know?”
Copper’s dad smiled again as he looked into his daughters gold eyes. They were shaped the same and fringed with the same lush, dark lashes as her mother’s. “Your mother’s gift is perception. She can perceive and interpret nonverbal communication. You know when a person keeps silent, but they are still mad, even though they smile and pretend they aren’t mad – well no one can pretend well enough to fool your mom. More than that, when a person has no language, like the kids you visited in the school? Well, your mom understands what they want to say…and she is their voice. It’s a gift.”
“But Dad, why does she cry? You didn’t answer that,” Copper said in a quiet voice, fearing she was right.
“Well, I’m getting there…just hold your horses sweetheart. Now…” he took a deep breath before continuing and then finally said, “I’m gonna talk about the accident, and I want your promise you are going to listen and not blame yourself. Just nod.” At Copper’s nod, her dad looked into her eyes a long time, regretting that the accident which caused his daughter’s dependence on her little red motorized wheelchair needed to come up again. “Okay. Uh….the accident changed your mom. It changed everything,” Copper’s Dad took time to hug his little girl, kiss the top of her head, and then he continued.
“You see, not only is your mom very good at perceiving nonverbal communication…actually gifted, but she is also an artist. Honey, artists are made different than everyone else. There is just no getting around it. They are moody, they feel everything deeper than anyone else, and oh boy, when she finishes a sculpture…well, it’s kind of like having a baby! There are tears, laughter, emotions running amuck! It’s just a hard thing to explain. Your mom cries when she gets an idea to sculpt in her head; when she hears a song that causes her to have an idea about something to sculpt; and, wow…when she finishes a sculpture…well, it is emotional. But being able to take that energy – her emotions and ideas – and put them into a sculpture is what makes her work genius. She also, doesn’t have the ability to break off from the hold that an idea takes. That’s why sometimes when we have something on our schedule that is really important, she forgets. She forgets, not because we aren’t important, but because the idea won’t let go. Now, I’m getting to the part about the accident,” he swallowed hard, knowing that no matter how he prepared her, she would still blame herself.
“After the accident, everything seemed to intensify. You see, even though your mom is special, and she has talent that no one else does…none of that is valuable to her. Especially, when they are measured against you. You are the most valuable and precious person in her life. When the accident happened and you were hurt…well, it just caused your mom to have not as tight a hold on the things that make her a genius. Let me explain it this way, you know in the movies when someone comes into contact with gamma rays, or a radioactive spider and suddenly all the traits they already have become supercharged?” At Copper’s nod, he said, “Well, it’s like the accident supercharged everything I just told you. She is impossibly better at translating nonverbal communication; more talented as an artist; and the downside is she feels everything even more. She isn’t depressed honey, she just feels everything times a thousand. She loves you and she almost lost you. Honey, your mom is still recovering from the accident too…just like you. She isn’t depressed; she is just working through it.” Copper’s Dad waited. He knew Copper’s intelligence would process the information. It took time.
Finally, Copper raised her head, “Dad, I feel better,” and then with a smile she said, “After all, my Mom has superpowers….and my Dad…well, he’s a hero. Why wouldn’t I feel better? So…you know she finished another sculpture…the barbed wire one? Let’s go have a super celebration,” Copper said with a wavering smile.
“Super, but hon I really need a….well, a super shower first!” They both threw back their heads and laughed.
Copper’s mom, who listened to the entire exchange in the hallway smiled. She released the held breath, and suddenly…..another idea loomed….but she quickly squashed it. She waited and finally smiled, a little surprised that it worked! Tonight, she thought, it was time for a super celebration!