Note: A rather heavy chapter. 😥
Only a few artists achieved recognition within their lifetimes. Even fewer made a fortune. I had both, before 40. Few critics even accused me of being money motivated. But I didn’t care. I long learnt it was futile trying to please everybody. I might be modern day’s Raphael. Perhaps? He was the only artist I knew that achieved both fame and fortune at a relatively young age. Certainly I was at the top of my game.
What more could I expect, right? Wrong.
I looked at my awards, each as prestigious as the other. But it wasn’t pride that I felt. I felt like a failure. In some aspects for sure.
Sadly, dad and mom passed away. Within 6 months of each other. Dad was the first to go. He was really old then. I knew I should be prepared to lose him any day, but yet I could not face up to the fact. And certainly neither could mom. She was utterly shattered, a shell of her former self. She was no longer the shrewd magnate I knew. A broken, elderly woman took her place. I presumed she could no longer bear living without him – they had lived their entire lives together after all, and soon she followed him.
I remembered daddy once told me not to be sad. They had lived their lives to the fullest. (Indeed, as a Celebrity Chef and a Business Tycoon.) They had no regrets leaving. But it hurt me. It was usually the living that couldn’t accept the departure.
I missed them. Terribly. A void was carved out from my heart. Never ever I felt such degree of pain. Not even when divorcing Delia.
I looked at the kitchen. There were too much memories. And so much of them cut me up whenever I tried to recall. Aroma of dad’s cooking; my childhood with Cullen, Eleanor and Leila; birthdays, family gatherings; wily banters with Delia… No more. All no more.
It was after sacrificing everything for success that I realise, success wasn’t everything.
I felt I could not bear living in the very house I grew up in. The hollering silence of an almost empty house was too much to bear. There was too much space, and who knew excess space could be suffocating as well. It reminded me too much of the void.
(Riona as a teen. She’s pretty, me thinks!)
There was too much space for two. Only Roisin and I left. Riona had left for the Boarding School. I wished she would call.
I decided to move. The house was too priceless to sell. I won’t be doing that; I didn’t want it to be at the mercy of the new buyers. Money was never an issue for me anyway. I chose the city. Partially for Roisin. That poor girl, she missed her mom. Even more after the passing of her grandparents. She was like the suitcase kid that shuttered from one place to another. Moving closer to her mom would possibly make her life easier. Poor girl. I wished life will be kind to her.
I had nothing to pack, besides a few choice paintings. My best works throughout the years, in my opinion. And portraits of my parents. They will be forever with me…
Our new abode was this rather industrial looking penthouse in the Arts Quarter. Nearer to my new gallery, though I don’t paint as much these days. My brush had been untouched for quite some time. I didn’t need to. The few commissions that I chose to accept paid me more than enough. They were my oldest patrons; people like Mr Elphinstone that I couldn’t bring myself to say no to.
And money wasn’t everything. I had spent almost all my youth at the easel, and it was quite enough. At this stage I was no longer looking for fame or anything. I just wanted a quiet life. And maybe time with Roisin. She was growing up too. Someday, she would be leaving. And I hoped I won’t be alone…