My most recent painting, ‘Last Portrait’, is in memory of my father. James William Bartlett Jr. 1923-2012. It was painted from studies done at bedside the morning he passed, May 2nd.  At his funeral, it was an accepted attribute: he was a hero. He was a P-38 pilot shot down over China in World War II. I’d heard the stories my whole life. (His hippocampus must have been fully activated.) He remembered every detail of his adventure. The stories of his bailout, walking across occupied China and eventual return to allied territory, were told and retold. But, it was not his medals or war stories that won him praise on the day of his funeral. It was the struggles that he overcame upon his return from the War that classified him as a hero in the minds of many. He’d returned to an America full of possibility after the War. He was enrolled in architecture school at Georgia Tech, then my mother became pregnant with my sister. They moved back to Columbus Georgia and my father worked in his father’s furniture manufacturing company. Life struggles consumed him for most of my childhood; demons of sex, race, and alcohol. But in mid-life he overcame his demons, he got religion and never looked back.  We had our disagreements on most all things political, racial, and religious, but we were always civil about it. He could say things that would have infuriated (and often did) any socially aware person, but somehow, he and I got along. He worked hard at his church, and at the local food pantry. I loved my father. I forgive him for the things he needs to be forgiven for, and I appreciate him for the many lessons he taught me, directly or indirectly, for how he motivated me, for how he always believed in me. He was my biggest fan. Carl Jung said that one of the most powerful motivating factors for a son are the unfulfilled dreams of the father. Thanks Dad, for your constant courage and psychic wherewithal. You were a complicated man, you were my favorite model. I will always try to honor your memory. 


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