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The Very Beginning

Nap Time

My name is Patricia and I have been coloring, drawing or painting since I was five or six. It has always been my dream to spend entire days sitting at an easel painting pictures others would enjoy and share.

The following story describes how "faces of angels" helped make my dream come true.

In 1989 my very best friend, Bonnie, learned that she had ovarian cancer.

Although friends and family were devastated by the news, Bonnie always tried to keep a positive attitude. When she began her treatments I went with her. She was afraid to go to sleep, so I would camp-out in the chair next to her bed. She was shocked and dismayed when her hair fell out from the radiation perhaps more so than others because she was a professional hairdresser. I told Bonnie that we could shave off what was left and I would use her as a canvas on which I would paint the most beautiful scenery on her beautiful smooth head. We would laugh together about that image. Despite the circumstances we managed to laugh often. After two long years, however, the laughter stopped. Bonnie lost her battle with cancer and as I promised her, I was there to hold her hand.

When I left the hospital that day I went to see my mother and father. My father just put his loving arms around me and let me cry. I asked him why this had to happen. What good could come from all of this? Why did God have to take the good ones?

All my father did was hold me tight and say very calmly, "You will grow from this experience." I didn't then understand what he meant and I didn't know how I would grow. Perhaps without either of us being able to define what would happen in the future, my father had glimpsed the face of an angel.

It was a very long drive home for me that day. I was angry with God for taking my best friend away from her young family and from me. I asked Him "why?" in as may ways as I possibly could. As I cried He listened. After a few miles I finally began to calm down. "If I have to accept this," I said to God, "I want to help others live through these dreadful diseases. How can I do that? How can I use whatever talents I have to help others cope with great losses?"

At that moment, as clear as if someone was sitting next to me in the car, a voice said, "Paint the children but paint them well."

Was that a turning point in my life?

Yes... but at the time, I didn't realize it.

I didn't know what was meant by what I had heard, and I certainly didn't feel ready to embark on painting children. I didn't even know what children I should paint. I was confused, in pain, and still looking for answers I could understand.

So... I ignored God's direction and went about my business for more than ten years until I turned 50. What a mile marker. It made me reflect on who I was and what I had achieved... or hadn't achieved!

I was born and raised in Ohio, the second oldest of seven children. My artistic motivation began young, guided by my father at the age of about six. By the time I was ten I began studying under the renowned watercolor artist Franklin Bates. In my later years I have studied under award winning and renowned artist and portrait painter James Seward and I am proud of my accomplishments.

And yet, despite that pride, I was experiencing, after five decades of life, an even greater and overwhelming feeling of failure. Was this all I had to show for my years on earth? Again I turned to God. I hadn't listened to him before, but here I was again, asking: "Why have I not made it as an artist yet?"

The answer came immediately.

"You never painted the children!"

I was shocked, embarrassed, and humbled by the answer. It was true. At a time of loss and sorrow I had specifically asked what to do with my talent. God had given me the answer then. He had just given me the answer again. Now, however, he would not need to tell me a third time.

"Paint the Children but paint them well."

At that moment I surrendered and said I was ready to paint what ever and whoever He would give me to paint. And, with His help, I would do so to the best of my ability.

For those of you who doubt that life has an organized purpose and design, please consider that only several days later, completely out of the blue, I received a phone call from a gentleman associated with the Aladdin Foundation. He had learned of my efforts as a painter and referred me to a contact at the Akron Children's Hospital with the suggestion that I might be able to share my talents there for the benefit of the young people for whom they care.

Since that time I have begun an effort that I call "Faces Of Angels." I paint portraits of catastrophically or terminally ill children. I paint them in a way that sees far beyond their diseases, their pain, their suffering. I portray them as they are. Sweet. Innocent. Full of hope. Vessels of life. Wonderful beings with the faces of angels. These portraits are then donated to the families of these children.

It is a blessing for me to share my talents and to give others this gift from my heart. It is my hope and prayer that these paintings will help families always remember their loved ones in wellness and in happiness.

The angel faces I see on the children I paint, remind me every day to listen to voices wiser and more powerful than my own. They also are eternal proof that even during the most difficult, hurtful times, each of us is capable of rising to new and joyful heights if we are willing to dream.

My sister, Kathleen, recently wrote to me the following.

"To dream is to create - to create is to fulfill - to fulfill is to feel complete! The path you are following Sis, leads to your dreams, creations, fulfillment and completion! Let God continue to chart your path and your life. He has blessed you with so many talents and gifts - Let them flow - Give Him the glory!"

Her words echoed those of my father when he said, many years ago: "You will grow from this experience."

In growing, I came to accept that nothing is as real as a dream. The world can change but your dream will not. Because the dream is within you, no one can take it away. When we share our dreams, awake and with our eyes wide open, those dreams will become true.

My dreams - every night and every day - are filled with the faces of angels. Thank you Bonnie.