In 2016, I entered my first Capitola Plein Air event and was painting on the wharf near a fisherman. We struck up a conversation and he told me about an elderly man who came to the wharf every single day. He walked to the middle of the wharf, touched a plaque dedicated to his wife, bent over to kiss it, then returned to his car. Sure enough, along he came with his cane, wearing athletic shorts. I had goosebumps as I watched his sweet daily ritual, and was so touched by this story, I snapped this quick photo.
The next year when I returned to Capitola, I saw the man again. This time he was having great difficulty making his way, and someone was assisting him. But I could see his determination, and he succeeded. As he returned to pass me, I made eye contact with him and said hello. I noticed he was sweating, breathing hard, and relying on his escort quite a bit. He nodded his head at me and continued.
So this year, I went to the wharf hoping to see him again. When he never appeared, I walked down to about where I recalled him stopping. There are many plaques, but these two told just about the right story, with dates that made sense. If I’m guessing right, Jack honored his wife Ruthie every day for 10 years, and must have passed shortly after I saw him. I was so touched to witness Jack’s faithfulness; it was something that stuck with me.
But my story isn’t over. This year, I decide to paint the Capitola Wharf in my third Capitola Plein Air event. I stood on the beach on the south side. As I did, I thought about what I might name the painting to honor Jack and Ruthie. But such a title might only mean something to me. When I added figures to the wharf, my brush made a “happy accident” of making two heads near “the spot”. I imagined it was two figures, one wrapping his arms around the other from the back. A fitting way to acknowledge these loving spirits.
As I finished the painting, I saw a young man in a dress suit on the beach, and I looked past him. There on the north side of the wharf was a wedding setting up. I quickly tore down, moved, and set up to paint the event from under the wharf. When the wedding party discovered me, I became a small part of the event. The whole wedding party came to see the quickly painted piece. Maybe in some way I brought the link of that love into the next love story.