For the first six years of operations, Nunn Design filled the back bedroom of our house, an 1100 square foot 1929 cottage in Port Townsend, Washington. Product spilled down the halls and filled the basement, mingling with the stuffed animals, books, and toys of our little family. As our two daughters became older, and my husband began grumbling about sharing the kitchen with employees at lunch time, I started to look for a location in which to house our growing business.
I was able to find an office space through a connection of Brett’s. A blacksmith he worked with had recently passed from Lou Gehrig’s disease. His widow needed to rent his former studio, but was reluctant. The grief of losing her life’s partner was still very fresh. As I spoke with her about the space, I had suggested that we do a ritual together to honor her time with her husband, while at the same time welcoming new creative energy into the space.
We met on a Saturday afternoon at the studio. I brought with me a satchel filled with flat rocks, and several Sharpie Markers. As we walked through the rooms, I asked her to think of special memories that she had of her husband within those spaces. With each memory she told, we took a rock from my satchel, wrote a word on it that captured the essences of her experience, placed the rock on the floor of that room, and moved on to the next.
When we arrived at the sleeping loft, she told a story of how she had climbed up into this space after her husband’s memorial services, laid down on the bed, and cried for what seemed like hours. After her sobs subsided, she turned to see a bird sitting on the window ledge inches from her face. The bird perched there, on the edge of the open window, looking at her. Without a shadow of a doubt, she knew with all of her being, that this was her husband coming to let her know that all would be okay.
I loved this story so much I told it to my father. He had previously told me about his belief that his own father had returned to him as a wild turkey walking into his family’s farmhouse shortly after the funeral. We made an agreement then and there that when he passed, if possible, he would come to me as a bird to let me know that everything would be all right.
My father died two years ago when I was exhibiting at the Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show. In the weeks to follow, I spent a lot of time with my mother while she grieved the loss of her husband of sixty-five years. During one of those visits, my mother pulled out several of my father’s journals and offered them to me. I reluctantly reached out for one to make her feel better. The journal that I selected was a daily record of his experience with the book by Julia Cameron titled, “The Artist Way.” I had given this book to him on his 80th birthday. As I randomly flipped through the pages, I found myself having a conversation with my father.
“Dad, this is your personal journey. I feel uncomfortable reading your thoughts. Show me what I need to know about you.”
My fingers stopped flipping, my eyes went right to this sentence; “It has come to my awareness that creativity is the highest form of spirituality that one can experience.”
To this day these words still make me tear up. In that moment, I felt great gratitude that my father saw me, and that he really understood my life’s passion and purpose.
As Nunn Design has navigated the past couple of weeks, I have experienced many waves of grief. I have doubted my purpose, my mission, and the voice that I bring to this community of makers. A week ago, that’s two years and two months since my father’s passing, he fulfilled his promise. As I was sitting in my bedroom with the morning light filtering through the window, a small bird fluttered up on the sill, landed, and cocked his head back and forth looking at me for a good thirty seconds. I knew it was my father letting me know that my life had great purpose. That I could navigate this pandemic with my community of makers, and we would find a new normal together.
Thank you, dad. Thank you for fulfilling your promise. Thank you for helping all of us find a sign of hope when we needed it most.
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