One summer during the late '90s I had a shitty camera, but somehow as I was whizzing by in a car, as night was turning to morning, I snapped a photo of the Italian countryside and a full field of sunflowers in bloom. Growing up in the midwest the most plentiful thing I had ever seen a field of was corn, and believe me, there was no comparison. It was one of most incredible things I had ever seen.
When I got married a decade later, I did so in the fall and I chose to carry sunflowers. Because of the colors, of course, but also because they reminded me of that morning and moments of complete wonder.
My son knows nothing of any of this.
One Friday evening my son sat on the couch playing with some toy or another and he very non-chalantly announced: I'm going to be in an art show. Sure enough, in his backpack I found a note from his teachers letting us know he'd been one of the two children selected from his kindergarten class to be presented in the upcoming district art show.
His painting was of three sunflowers.
It was all very busy at the art show. Relatives came, there were snacks, the little one ran madly through the stacks and needed to be chased and held and chased and held some more. I went back the following week when I was alone. I stood as still and as somber as if I were in the Uffizi. The bursts of yellow and the green stalks and his signature scribbled in green colored pencil.
No one tells you how a school art project will make your knees feel weak and like your heart is too big, so full of pride that it can't possibly be encompassed in your tired, forty year old, thought-you'd-seen-it-all chest.
But it is, and you haven't, not by a mile.