Heather seems to be in constant motion. She has a grace and beauty about her that made me stop notice her at church one day. She is young and pretty but she has wisdom in her eyes beyond her years. I found out later that her life requires quite a bit of energy, emotionally and physically, with two of her four young children being autistic.
When I was asked by the Rich Foundation earlier this year to do a painting for a fundraising event, Heather was the first person to came into my mind. I knew very little about autism so I called her up and she gave me time to answer my questions, she also gave me a lot more.
I did sketches of my design and showed them to Heather before I got to work. The only thing I knew was that a puzzle piece is the symbol used to represent Autism. I drew a woman with a baby girl in her lap. Heather informed me that most children with autism are actually boys and that it probably shouldn't be a baby in the painting because children aren't diagnosed until they are a little older. After I let what I'd learn sit with me for while, that puzzle piece became a symbol of love, love from teachers and caregivers.
Thank you to Heather for teaching me so much. Now I know why she has that wisdom in her eyes, she's learned more about life and love than most of us have at twice her age. That's her gift.
Reproductions for My Gift will be exclusively through Boardman Frame House Gallery. I will be at the Fundraiser for the study study and treatment of autism on November 15. Proceeds from this reproduction will be donated to research. I feel grateful at this opportunity to give a little bit back.