Tuesday, December 27, 2011

For Tito Bert, because you are loved...

...and will be terribly missed.

I was thinking of writing about you, but words fail me. I thought maybe drawing you would be easier.

The composition will be in black and white and varying shades of gray. You don’t need an assorted nor ostentatious display of color to be interesting. A tinge of gray gradating into a darker, more solid hue, as if from innocence to maturity. The shadows of youth, not lost, but tucked into the sobriety of age.

I will start with a rough sketch. Tentative lines to achieve a desired end—an exercise in dreaming and believing. A journey of faith.

There will be lines that are casually drawn, as if taking a piece of charcoal and sweeping it across a grainy surface, the tiny valleys of the paper left unmarked. A passage, from one point to another, leaving your imprint on the path taken but conspicuously bare where you do not tread. The flourish says, here I am, and this is where I have chosen to go.

There will be bold strokes, like lines on flesh, showing purpose and confidence. Etched around the mouth for a life spent in laughter, on the forehead for the wisdom of experience, between the brows for earnestness, and around the eyes—left by images perceived and fathomed, by visions dreamed and realized—crinkling at the corners in affirmation.

There is no need to draw the full face, only parts of it, like it’s unfinished. A life well lived but not lived out. Some lines still need to be drawn over, broken lines connected or filled in. I think it’s beautiful like that the drawing, the man. They are the same, neither lacking in character. In fact, to accept the flaws, to embrace the incompleteness shows, I believe, strengthe of character.

With every shaft of light, a shadow is cast. Black and negative space. But the word negative is somehow incongruous for a drawing of you. I’d like to think of it as clean, crisp white that triumphs over black. So there will be more white which, in all its purity, inspires its audience.

The picture will show the perpetual kind smile that is a Tito Bert trademark. The line of the neck almost graceful, belying competence and loyalty. The eyes that—though crinkled with joy—are gleaming with sensitivity, understanding and sincerity, twinkling with a touch of playfulness.

Still, it’s not enough. I cannot show with any number of lines or experiments with tone and texture my gratitude for all that you have given me: fatherly love which I was too proud to accept I needed, much less ask for, but that you have generously showered me; your faith in me and what you believe I can achieve when I am filled with doubt; and the gift of family, through Gretch. Gretch, who is the sister of my heart. My friend, my ally, my hero, my sounding board. The warmth to my objectivity, the logic to my confusion, the fresh perspective to my sometimes one-track mind. And, from the time I was 20 until now, at 40, my best friend in the whole world. You gave me all these, touching my life in a most profound way.

I would draw you or write about you if I could, but I’m not so talented as to do you justice. I can only try. I will, however, wish you a happy, blessed and memorable 75th birthday, along with the whole of my heart, and pray that it finds its way to you.



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A Writer's Nakama