Inspiration Comes In All Forms

Inspiration Comes In All Forms

by Jennifer Carpenter

Inspiration seems to ebb and flow, presenting itself on a whim. Encouragement and motivation can be equally illusive. Many of us search for it when we feel creative juices have evaporated into thin air. In this instance, inspiration found me when it was the last thing I was looking for one warm October afternoon, and continues to send encouragement whenever the windows are open. 

Not many people know the story behind my colored pencil drawing entitled, End of Time Flies, so I have to share that in order for this story to make any sense. It was October 10, 2012. My brother, my dad's companion and I were all gathered around dad's bed in the nursing home. It was the day we knew he was going to die. Always too hot in the rooms, we opened the window to let in the breeze. With it, came a fly. One of those big obnoxious ones, common in farm country where I grew up. It kept landing on dad's knee and we all took turns shooing it away. It just seemed wrong, right? In an effort to lighten the mood of the impending event, we decided that fly was Mom, as she would have liked to have been a fly on the wall; she hated missing anything of any relevance where family was concerned. After that no one had the nerve to kill it! She was persistent and resisted our attempts to get her to leave the same way she had entered. We were all present in the moment when dad breathed his final breath. 

Days later at Dad's funeral as I walked across the cemetery parking area towards the grave site, a fly landed on my chest and it made me giggle inside....hi Mom. As the small, brief service went on and tears were about to commence, I looked at Dad's closed casket and there on the far end away from the opening of the mausoleum...sat a fly, perched on the lid. I could imagine it being Mom, pushing Dad with all her might into his awaiting spot where they will spend eternity parallel parked. I turned to my left and looked one row back until my brother's eyes met mine and I mouthed the words, “There's a FLY! ON DAD'S CASKET!!!” It took every ounce of our being to hold it together and keep from laughing. We are a unique family. Laughter would have been encouraged in this intimate gathering, but those who had given us our warped sense of humor had earned their wings...literally? 

Afterwards, I returned to my quiet house two hours away where very few knew of my loss or my return. There were no hugs, no flowers, no ham biscuits...only silence and an emptiness the steady stream of memories could never fill. I went to my studio, wanting to be alone in my loneliness. I made my rounds, flipping on lights, checking the plants, lighting some candles, filling the cat food bowl...and there it was...a dead fly, belly up. It made me laugh. We often joked how mom was surely enjoying her time in Heaven while dad continued to try our nerves here on Earth. Unbeknownst at the time, each of us three kids had visited the cemetery before dad passed to secretly let mom know dad was on his way, he'd be there soon. I felt like that was my sign he had made it. Sorry if that offends anyone, but you would have had to have known my mom. She had an enormous sense of humor and truly believed she would come back and visit us from time to time in one form or another. We found comfort in that. It would be like her to pick something like a fly. A photo shoot of the dead fly on a mirror and that drawing were the result of this crazy shade of grief. 

That brings me to today...I spent the day working my shift at the gallery in Floyd and there was a FLY the size of a small plane! This fly had from 11-5 to come and go as it pleased, but it never left. Multiple times it got in my hair. I feared when I spoke to customers it would swoop into my mouth! While washing windows on the door, I saw something out of the corner of my eye on my shoulder, thought it was a stink bug, then was that FLY, ON my shoulder, IN the hallway leading into the gallery. Again, I giggled. Hi Mom. So finally I settled into my drawing at the register with a sense that my parents were pleased, proud, and still encouraging, and the rest is, well....hi Mom. 

About Jennifer:

Jennifer Carpenter received her BA from Bridgewater College in 1987. She is a charter member of the Colored Pencil Society of America. Her colored pencil work has appeared in multiple books and magazines., and can be seen on her Facebook Art Page: JPCarpenterArt, or follow her on Instagram @jpcarpenter_coloredpencil.


Comments (8)

Briiliant story. I believe it, all of it. It’s that magic that makes your art so real. We don’t know what comes after all if this…….but it’s these beliefs that make life more bearable. Thank you for sharing. Warmly Karina xx

KARINA Griffiths - Jul 05, 2017

Beautiful, sentimental and very moving !! Your family sounds a lot like mine in the humour department Jennifer.. It’s a great and loving closure piece xxx

Robyn Garnet - Jul 05, 2017

Such a heart warming story behind the subject Jennifer and I believe every bit of it. I had a similar experience a week after my dad’s passing. A huge beautiful moth came into the house and stayed on for few days, refusing to leave even when all the windows and doors were opened. Some may say I’m being superstitious but I know it’s him, can’t explained it but I just knew.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful story behind the scene.

Sharon SS Kow - Jul 05, 2017

My sister came and visited me for three days in a row after her death in the form of a little bird sitting on my fence that I could see out the window from my desk. Then, on the morning I left Japan after living there for 3 months, she came again, in the form of another little bird landing on my balcony railing as I was silently saying good bye to my Japanese neighborhood. It was my sister’s urgings before her death that had brought me to my 3-month Tokyo sojourn.

Well, anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! :-)

Ann Kullberg - Jul 05, 2017

After my Mom passed, I would visit her gravesite whenever I was in town. I always left a single yellow rose at the site. I am convinced that I used to hear her say in my head “yellow rose” which led to my leaving that flower afterwards every time I visited her. I think she appreciated it.

Suzanne Babineau - Jul 05, 2017

Because I have had a similar experience, I absolutely believe it and understand completely. My first husband passed tragically and I know he visits me often. it’s very special and always makes me smile …and say " hi, Laurie" ….because I am sure he hears me.

Lindy Clarkson - Jul 05, 2017

I love your story and yours and your family’s beautiful sense of humor. I too had a similar experience in that the day after we buried my dad, my husband and I had to go to the store. I was still hurting pretty bad at his passing. It had just finished raining and, as we were loading the groceries into the car, my husband said “Look, there on your shoulder”. The most beautiful blue and green dragonfly was sitting on my shoulder. When I looked over at it, it flew up and over to my other shoulder. After a couple of minutes, it flew off. That was the first time in my life that a dragonfly had ever landed on me. I just whispered a “Thank you Dad” and felt peace in my heart.

Beverly Lawyer - Jul 05, 2017

I loved your story and your family’s sense of humor, Jennifer, so many stories of our weird sense of humor, too! Before my Mother’s death October 27, 2016, I had moved back to GA from my home in FL to care for her for a year in the home she had lived in for 59 years. She had COPD and a severe case of Dementia that got progressively worse. She became paranoid with hallucinations and delusions to the point she thought my poor husband was trying to kill us, and had millions in offshore accounts, you name it! He was not allowed on the property and if she saw him, she would poke her cane at him through the screen door and command him to leave! When she passed away, I bought my sister’s share of our childhood home and we live here, now. The doorbell has never rang unless rung by someone in all those years, but after we moved in, it rings at least every two days and sometimes twice a day with no one there! We just say, “well hello, Mother, come on in”! We keep those canes around just in case.

Paula Bush - Jul 05, 2017

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