My Father

During my elementary school years, my father had an evening  shift job. He was on the job at home for breakfast, outfit selection, hairdos and lunch for my sister and me while my mother worked sunrise shift in a dress factory. We walked home for lunch and it was usually on the table waiting for us when we walked through the door.

There were a few times, though that we would come home and find my father sitting at the kitchen table in deep concentration over a large canvas board from a paint-by-number kit. The first time I saw this, one painting in the set was nearly done. When did that happen? Apparently, he had been working on it bit by bit and putting it away before we came home. Those few times we saw him at the kitchen table must have been times that he couldn’t tear himself away , although it was more likely a case of finishing up all areas of a color from the little plastic pot he had open.

Paint-by-number as a hobby was pretty out of character for my father if you looked at the big picture. But when I think about his life-long characteristic of extreme meticulousness, this makes sense.


There are two large canvases, one of egrets and one of flamingos against the same Everglades-type  background. From the moment they were finished and framed in thick white wood frames with gold graining, they hung in the old house until my mother died. I have them now.

As far as I know, he never did another paint-by-number before or since.

Here is young me in an outfit* that I made in high school Home Ec class, standing in proximity to the paint-by-numbers in their place of honor in our home. The snapshot was taken because I had just trudged home through the snow from Easter Sunday Mass.

easter snow

*The coat was a hot pink textured wool, double breasted with self-covered buttons. The ensemble included a hot pink floral sleeveless sheath dress that matched the lining of the coat. The hat was probably from K Mart.


4 thoughts on “My Father

  1. When I iwas 16 and had an uneventful life, I did the paint-by-numbers, one a flamingo and one an egret. Just like your Dad. And yes, my Dad made frames and they hung on the wall for a few years. Have no idea what happened to them. I like the Easter outfit you made.

  2. I think that’s them. I actually lived in Miami at the time, so they seemed appropriate. I think your Dad’s look much better than mine did.

  3. This made me cry.
    My Dad did the same thing. His were two Oriental looking scenes with bridges and trees and a stone lantern. I have them in my hallway.
    He said he did them because my Mom was an art teacher and artist and he wanted to experience how it felt to be creative.
    He was a rancher and he painted them in winter after going out in the bitter cold and feeding cattle all morning.
    I tried doing one once. It drove me crazy. All those little spaces and the colors all looked alike.
    I never saw him doing the actual painting. By the time I got home from school he was out again doing chores. I try to picture him bent over it with that small brush in his big hand. He was a complete gentle man. My model against which I measure every man that I meet.
    Thanks for helping me remember this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s