Tuesday, June 7, 2016

"Uncle Tom," by Juli Snyder

My daughter Juli (Julianne Snyder) is an abstract painter (there is a link to her website at the end). She publishes a newsletter about her work and in May 2016, she wrote what you will read below. I asked her if I could publish it on The Cemetery Traveler blog and she graciously agreed. Take in her words and artwork. Thank you - Ed Snyder

"You Gave Me Hope," 8x8"

I had a sweet message ready and rarin' to go, but I was walking the dogs and heard someone playing bagpipes, so instead, I'd like to tell you a little story.

Bagpipes always make me think of my Uncle Tom.

He was an especially awesome, animated, hilarious dude. He had a motorcycle. He played in bands. I remember riding in his gigantic Lincoln Continental that felt (and looked) more like a boat. Out in Wilkes Barre [Pennsylvania], when I was a kid, we'd have fires in his backyard. He'd sometimes give me his lighter to play with or let me secretly watch Ren and Stimpy and MTV in his bedroom while the rest of the family was downstairs. Family shindigs were always especially swell when he was around. He was the life of the party, and besides my grandparents, really held us all together. I remember sometimes I'd hide his cigarettes.

Unfortunately, he had a massive heart attack in his mid 40s. He was a heavy smoker, and ended up paying the ultimate price. Pretty fucked up. I remember it so clearly: driving to his funeral. Someone was playing bagpipes. Somehow I made it from my dorm in Philly to Wilkes Barre in about an hour. Please don't tell anyone that. I kinda feel like he had to have been watching over me because in retrospect, that def wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done, but I wasn't even thinking.
Sometimes we live our lives as if we're invincible. We're not.

I remember during the nite before the funeral, waking, the sickly light from the Temple [University] campus street lights creeping into my bedroom, and while attempting to close the curtains more, knocking the remainder of my Starbucks frappuccino on my windowsill into my hair. Weird shit. ANYWAY. Bagpipes.

"Make A Wish," 12x30"

It's detrimental to us to do the same shit every day. It keeps us stuck. That in mind, I consciously have been taking different routes when walking the dogs. Tonite was no different, and I followed the sound of them. When I found the source, I stopped briefly and took it in. I allowed myself to really feel it and let the emotion well up.

I always take hearing bagpipes as a sign that Uncle Tom's around. It's rare that I hear them, and it's comforting. I got goosebumps, listening to it. I wish I'd gotten to know my Uncle Tom as an adult, but I sure was blessed as heck to know him at all.

"Precipice," 12x16" 

Links to Juli Snyder and her Black Arrow Arts website:
Black Arrow Arts Website
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