A Ship, A Painting, A Photo, And A Man

My father once owned a painting. He loved that painting, so much so that it was hung prominently in the living room of every house we lived in when I was growing up. It was a dramatic scene: an old sailing ship tossed in a stormy sea, dark clouds crowding the sky. I remember it well, and fondly, and understand his emotional attachment to both the painting itself and the scene it depicted. It moved me.

One day about 1990 or so, long after I’d moved away from home and gotten married, my father came home to a house containing nothing but carpet. And while I could write an entire memoir about the villainy of my evil, abusive step-monster over the years, suffice it to say here and now that the painting was lost that day.

A few weeks ago, my father was walking by a local second-hand store and took note of a painting he liked. It was hanging on the wall near the store-front window. As it was part of his newly regular walking route, he admired the painting each time he passed, and one day went in and asked about it. The price tag on it was too high for his 78 year old eyes to read, and the lady in the shop couldn’t quite make it out, either. She quoted him a price, and told him it was on clearance, plus he’d get a discount due to his age. He told her he’d be back the next day with cash, and she told him if he did, she’d give him still another discount.

Pop bought the painting the next day and took it home. He hung it on the bedroom wall over his bed, and it just suddenly clicked to him. He dug out boxes of old photos, and sure enough, he found the photo he was seeking.


The Photo
The Photo

That photo is from about 1976 or so, taken in the first house in which I can really remember us living. And it’s not just another print of the same painting. Twenty-eight years after having been stolen from him, my Pop’s painting was reunited with its rightful owner in a cosmic coincidence of O. Henry proportions. I went to visit my Pop in Philly, and got to see the painting and the photo first hand. I really should have taken a nice portrait of him and the photo and the painting, but I was pretty overwhelmed, and didn’t think of it. I’m just glad the painting made it back to him.

These days, feel-good stories seem few and far between, so I thought I should definitely share this one.