“ Handshake” 36 x 48 Oil 2006 by Tom Kelly
My mom died in 2004, my good friend and mentor, George McCullough, died on my mom's birthday, October 15, 2005 and my died Dad one year later on the same date, October 15, 2006 and the same time, about three in the afternoon. All three are represented in this painting
The week before my Dad died I had right shoulder surgery and was in pain and drained of energy most of the week while my Dad was fighting with the end of his life. Most of the time he was incoherent and I was not around as much as I would have liked because of the surgery. I did visit his home where the family was taking care of him.
On one of the last days before he lost conscious I visited his room one morning and he was strangely coherent, sharper then he had been for years. We talked for quite a while about the family, work and what was going on. He told me it was bad, “real bad” and that he understood what was going on. He wanted to make sure I would take care of everything. He extended his hand and we shook on it, three times. I said good bye. It was the last time he recognized me or spoke anything meaningful. Not only was he a great man and my father but I also had opportunity to work with him for over thirty years. Along with it came the responsibilities of the oldest son.
The painting is about the handshake. My father is painted in grays and serious, where my mother and George who are already dead are in color and smiling. I hope my Dad is smiling now too. Click here for a short story.