Memorial Page for my Friend, Shirley Cox
How I met Shirley & Kermit
During the fall season of 2002, my mom asked me to do a graphite pencil drawing for her friend, Les. In this case, the portrait was to be a Christmas gift.
A worn little photo of Les’ uncle was emailed to me. The picture was taken sometime in the 1950’s near the cranberry bogs of Warrens, Wisconsin. In it, a young man was standing with his truck. This truck had been severely overloaded with logs, and was tilted up on its axles by over 30 degrees. Because the wheel rims were badly damaged, he had a pretty bumpy ride home that day. Nonetheless, this guy is smiling from ear to ear in his old overalls, and you can just feel the mischief rolling out of the picture. This picture was an absolute joy to draw, and that is how I met Kermit. Consequently, this page is dedicated to Shirley and her beloved Kermit.
Shirley Inspired Me
Indeed, I had come to a crossroads in life in the spring of 2003. I was working 2 part-time jobs, juggling my art career, my frame-shop, a naughty bichon puppy, and my family of five kids. Ultimately, something had to give, and I was leaning towards letting go of the art.
I’ll never forget the moment when I opened the mail and found this fantastic letter and poem from Shirley. I’d never met her before, but her words touched me deeply and helped me to make the decision to keep following the path of the artist. She reminded me that God calls us to do more than simply survive. He has a path for each of us to follow, and He gives us the tools that we need to walk where He wants us to. Like Jonah, I’ve always managed to find other things to do. That year I stepped out in faith, buoyed by a letter from a kind stranger. In that case, I made the decision to keep creating art.
Kermit & His Son
Here is a composite portrait that Shirley asked me to draw for her. It is a graphite pencil portrait of Kermit in his welding uniform at Trane company. The little boy in the picture is his son, sitting on the floor and playing with his trucks. As shown below, he is dressed up like his dad in matching overalls.
Shirley and I began a to write to each other often. Finally, we met in person at Butterfest Days in Sparta, Wisconsin about a year later. Consequently, I kept my promise to her that I would create this page for her and Kermit’s memory. Below are a few of the many of the poems that she sent to me. I hope that you enjoy them and that they will touch you as well.
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Beauty in the Eyes of the Beholder
By Mrs. Shirley Mae Cox
A tiny seed was planted;
It was nourished with sun and rain.
The flower that it developed into;
To my eyes, it was very plain.
As a rose bush it is planted
Along the garden wall;
The rose too has its seasons
As summer turns to fall.
O’ to the eyes of the beholder,
As we pass by day by day;
Taking its beauty for granted
Until it is plucked away.
It’s then that we miss the beauty,
Believing forever it would be there.
We raise our eyes to Heaven
Saying, “God, it isn’t fair.”
Just like the tiny seed twas born,
So was man, who made his mark on the world.
Grew into a well-liked man;
In kindness, was like the rose unfurled.
There is beauty all around us,
With every day that passes.
You can see the man – the rose.
You don’t need rose-colored glasses.
Like flowers, people have their seasons;
which are Winter, Summer, Spring, and Fall.
There is one fact we know for sure;
Is that the Lord, God, made them all.
Searching for Respect
By Mrs. Shirley Mae Cox
Where has it gone, please tell me where!
As I look around in much great despair.
I can not find it in the places that I’ve checked;
A simple letter “R” that we call respect.
I remember well growing up as a child
A much calmer atmosphere –
You could almost say “mild”.
Respecting your elders; you could find everywhere
To be kind and helpful, offer them your chair.
Hold the door at the restaurant when you’re out to eat
And say a pleasant “Hello” to the people you meet.
It’s not just the children; it’s the grown-ups too;
A refresher course in manners;
There should be quite a few.
How soon we lose sight of the Golden Rule!
I was taught about in first grade,
at a one-room school!
“Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you!”
It’s still the best policy, that is nothing new.
Will you help me to find it”
I hope that you can.
To be a nation of caring is part of the plan.
But I am making some progress
the last time that I checked,
I’m close to finding that “R”,
The one called Respect