The Photographer’s Aunt Ruth, who died this week, ran her own business for years painting houses. He described how his Mom used to help when he was a kid, and sent him and his brother out back to play, where once or twice, too young to think anything of it, they decided it would be fun to play with the pigs, to imitate them, and wallowed around in the pig stye. Ruth looked out the window and howled with laughter. The smell was terrible on the drive home. It must have driven his poor mother nuts, washing the pig stye out of their clothes. 

He told me how Ruth stirred paint on the hood of her car, how she didn’t seem to care when it splashed over the sides and speckled her hood all different colors. When comments were made, she said, “Like it? I did it myself.” And at some point she took a paintbrush and ordinary house paint and repainted the whole thing. 

Last night, in the paint section of the hardware store, the Photographer broke into a goofy dance to the music coming through the store speakers for my amusement. I love the way his playful spirit expresses itself, serious one moment, utterly silly the next, with no warning, and just for the fun of it. There are people in our lives who teach us valuable skills, how to read, to cook, to drive, to balance a checkbook. I have Ruth to thank for giving the Photographer a pig stye to play in.

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