Cumulonimbus clouds. Picture by Marylin Warner, taken from window of a moving car!

Cumulonimbus clouds. Picture by Marylin Warner, taken from window of a moving car!

Cirrus clouds. (Picture taken by Marylin Warner)

Cirrus clouds. (Picture taken by Marylin Warner)

Cumulus clouds over mountain range. (Picture by Marylin Warner)

Cumulus clouds over mountain range. (Picture by Marylin Warner)







Dear Mom,

Recently Matt Meister, Chief Meteorologist at our local KRDO News Channel 13, gave a tour to classrooms of elementary-age students. One of my favorite comments was from a fifth-grader from Pueblo: “My Nana told me that clouds are God painting the sky, but you said they are made of water.”

Meister took the boy, his class and teacher outside and showed them the cirrus clouds. He pointed out how the clouds looked like a paintbrush had made them, and then he said, “It’s pretty obvious to me that your Nana is right, but maybe she forgot that God uses watercolors!”

I knew you would like that story, Mom. I remember when I was about that age and you came out and sat down beside me on the lawn. You joined me in finding people and animals in the thick, puffy cumulus clouds floating overhead. One wispy, thin cirrus cloud trailed off by itself, and you said it reminded you of a poem. Later we looked up William Wordsworth’s “I wandered lonely as a cloud ~ that floats on high o’er vales and hills ~ When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of golden daffodils…”  The next time you got out your watercolors, we tried painting clouds.

They were a lot harder to paint than they looked, and I got frustrated. I was probably whining and complaining when you finally took out a box of supplies. You gave me chalk and colored pencils, a Big Chief Tablet and crayons. You told me to draw clouds on the sidewalk or color clouds on the tablet with crayons or pencils. It didn’t matter, as long as I kept trying until I was proud of the clouds I made. As the British writer G.K. Chesterton wrote: “There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.”

What a lesson I learned that day, Mom! You taught me that creating something was important, worth my best effort. You also taught me to try, try again until I was proud of my efforts, and to be my own critic.

When I think of that lesson, I remember that Chesterton also wrote this: “The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.”

I love you, Mom, and all the gentle, real lessons you taught me. You don’t remember them, but I do, and I’ll share them with your grandchildren and great-grandchildren so they’ll know the lessons, too, and know they came from you.

Symbols of clouds and rain.Acryllic painting by Marylin Warner

Symbols of clouds and rain.
Acryllic painting by Marylin Warner



Filed under art, art projects, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, memories for grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren

73 responses to “THE WAY TO LOVE ANYTHING

  1. Another wonderful memory you shared. And such great lessons for us all. Thank you for sharing.

  2. You’re very welcome, Rod. Earlier today I enjoyed your photography of the pelicans and the amazing sunset. My mother would have been encouraging me to learn to draw and paint these, too. (She was a master of keeping me busy when I started to get bored.)

  3. juliabarrett

    Wow, what a gorgeous post. Your mother reminds me of my husband’s mother. When her father (my husband’s grandfather) died, she came home from the hospital and apparently found my husband sitting on the steps. He was only five years old and he loved his grandfather very much. When he asked her how his grandpa was she said, “He’s been moved to another hospital.” When he asked which hospital she said, “The hospital where the angels sing.” And my husband said he felt okay about it.
    I love your painting and your photos.

  4. Oh, Julia, what a lovely, touching story. A perfect answer for a young boy who’s lost his beloved grandfather.

  5. this is so beautiful, marilyn! maybe your mother’s memory is mixed up with sleep mode, and her sleep mode is actively watching you? if so, she is beaming with pride!

  6. Kathleen Durbin

    I like clouds & enjoyed seeing your cloud pictures, Marylin.

    • Thanks, Kathleen. These are all Colorado clouds; my memories of Kansas skies include vivid greenish skies just before a tornado warning. But there’s no comparison between the two states when it comes to amazing sunsets–Kansas wins.

  7. What a lovely memory to have. I hope my boys remember some things like this that we used to do. We used to love to go to the park in the fall when it was windy and the leaves were falling. We’d try to catch them. They’d laugh and have so much fun. Kind of like watching those clouds with your mother, I imagine. 🙂

    • We used to try and catch blowing leaves, too, and it was wonderful.
      You know, it really is the simple times that kids remember, Carrie. Kind of like playing with the boxes that the gifts were packed in, doing simple things together is what really counts.

  8. Hi Marilyn, Your beautiful painting caught my eye right away. I love it and I love that your mother’s advice will be passed down through generations…she is wise in so many ways! 🙂 Viv

    • Wow, Viv, I am really please that you liked my painting, especially with all the vibrant scenes on your blog. Thank you.
      I am trying to pass down my mother’s example and advice to my grandchildren. She had a basic truth and genuineness that I want them to understand.

  9. Chuck & Helen Armstrong

    I love the Meister’s comment and this writing and your pictures.

    Love, Helen

  10. Thanks, Helen. I still can’t believe that the main cloud pictures were taken from the car window WHILE Jim was speeding along the highway. The clouds were huge and everywhere; all I had to do was point and click!

  11. Beautiful photos and story, Marilyn. This makes me wish that I’d written more of my folks’ stories down.

  12. Heavenly post, Marylin.:) Your photos are fantastic! I love how you mom always instructed you so poetically. “The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.” Beautiful words…thank you.:)

  13. Daniela

    Every time I visit your blog and read one of your post, something stirred inside me … something connected with love and wisdom and understanding … but above all for having a compassion to share such precious memories. Thank you.

  14. Don

    Thank you Marilyn. A beautiful piece. That quote from from G K Chesterton,“The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.” really moved me. When pure rational thinking ousts poetic imagination, we’re in serious trouble. We need both – Matt Meister was very wise.

  15. You are such a gifted writer. If only your mom knew but perhaps she did know about your talent before she became ill. I truly hope so.

    • I hope so, too. And actually, while I was growing up–and especially when I began writing and we shared our love of writing–my mother made me feel special about each of my projects. And all the acts of creative whimsy I pursued. No matter what, I knew I could count on my mom–and my dad, too, actually–to find something good in each of my creative attempts.

  16. I love your photos of clouds and your painting! Your mom was right to keeping pushing you. 😉
    I’ve always loved to look at clouds and finding shapes, and so I do this a lot with my kids, at least when we have clouds good for that. Cumulonimbus are of course the best for that. I love cirrus clouds and how they look like someone took a big paintbrush and lightly brushed the sky with white paint. It also looks like cotton candy all stretched out, yum!

  17. I love this story. I’m glad God uses watercolours,,,

  18. Thanks for sharing those pictures! Some of my ‘spiritually gifted’ friends sometimes see more than what we see in clouds. Truly multiple dimensions encircle our world. 🙂

  19. Another beautiful memory and life lesson. You have an amazing gift for holding and sharing memories.

  20. What a beautiful life lesson, not only about the freedom of creativity but also to remember to look up at the sky and enjoy the beauty!

  21. Hi Marylin,
    God sure uses a wonderful palette to create such glorious clouds.
    Your mom was so in tune to that.
    And I see you’ve been hiding your creative talents. Lovely painting.
    Tracy 🙂

  22. So beautiful. I can see how your amazing Mom is still alive and well in her daughter.

    • That means so much to me. Thank you. Lately, in even little things, I’ll find myself doing things the say she did, or stopping and watching a sunset or a playful animal, and imagining how she would paint a picture or write about it. The deeper she fades into the dementia, the more I find myself trying to keep parts of her alive and vibrant.

  23. Beautiful Marilyn! Blessings, Robyn

  24. Oh, Marylin — you made me cry again! “I’ll share them with your grandchildren and great-grandchildren so they’ll know the lessons, too, and know they came from you.” So, so sweet.

  25. Now you know how I felt, Darla, reading the wonderful, loving stories you wrote about your sister and brothers and your parents. I’m glad you enjoyed this post.

  26. Awesome post Marylin I love it 🙂

  27. Dear Marylin, Beautiful post…Love, Ellen

  28. God is using watercolors to create our clouds 🙂 What a great sentiment, I am smiling now!

  29. Nancy Gibbs

    I love your painting!

  30. petit4chocolatier

    Marylin, always beautiful! I love your painting!

  31. dianabletter

    Wow, Marylin, you are so talented! And that is so funny that you took photos of clouds because that’s the cover of my book and that’s what I saw this morning! You are right, we have to keep going after our dreams and being creative is so life-affirming. Wonderful lesson! And I’m excited to share that my book is officially out on amazon today! Yay! Thanks for your kind words about it! Diana, The Mom Who Took off on her Motorcycle

    • Diana, your book is a delight, a one-of-a-kind travel journal of motorcycling to Alaska, meeting life head on, working things out, and loving every twist and turn of the adventure (I’d say more, but I don’t want to have to issue a spoiler alert!) THE MOM WHO TOOK OFF ON HER MOTORCYCLE is going to be the newest addition to my “book club”–the books I read aloud to my mother–but even better are the parts I read just to myself!

  32. I love the simple lessons taught by your mother that you are sharing with us. They are the most important and most treasured. Besides having a talent for the written word, you also seem to have one for expressing yourself through painting.

    • Oh, LuAnn, you should see where we “display” this painting–you have to open the door to the linen closet, and there it it, posted on the inside of the door with all my other practice paintings! But like my mother, I do love to play with paints and see what I can create.

  33. Jim

    I too love your “Storm Clouds” painting, Mor Mor. What would your readers think if they knew you had it hanging on the inside side of the door to our hall closet along with other paintings of yours? I think its time to frame “Storm Clouds” and find honorable wall space for it in our living room. How ’bout it? Hey, the painting is already an internet celebrity! (By the way, I bet I’m not the only blog-fan wondering what the little blue, orange and yellow squiggle figure is in the bottom right corner???)

    from your loving hubby.

    • Oh, dear loving hubby, the little blue/orange and yellow squiggle figure is actually the symbol of a struggling-to-blossom Indian paintbrush plant. In the art class where I painted this a dozen years ago, I had to incorporate at least a dozen Native American symbols, and I was one short. Thus, the colorful little plant.
      Now I’m all inspired to get out all the watercolors and acrylics and turn Grace and Gannon loose with art projects. How about joining in, Grandpa?

  34. What great imagery Marylin. I always love to look up into the clouds and find my own images of animals, people, places, things… It makes me feel like a kid again. 🙂

  35. This is just gorgeous and you’ve really done the story justice. Thanks for sharing it 😉

  36. Loved your painting. Awesome colors and power! Thank you for another beautiful post!

  37. Amy

    Thank you so much for sharing the beautiful story, Marylin!

  38. cirriform cumuliform and convective
    rolling and rippling in the sky above
    Nina, Pinta, and the Santa Maria rolling, rippling and stumbling in the seas around us
    cloud in heaven painting our imagination and being, sometimes, our inspiration
    Ships in the sea of a bygone era slowly bringing to us men of inspiration

    Well that’s the best I can come up with, but as usual your posts seem to bring out something in me and make me do what I usually avoid

    THINK xxx

  39. Tom, this is amazing. If my cloud blog inspired you to write any of this, then I am surprised and honored because “the best” you can come up with is wonderful.
    “Cloud in heaven painting our imagination” is beautiful. Now I look at my cloud pictures differently, thanks to you!
    (Today we’re up to our knees in snow, the roads and even the interstates are closed, and Part 2 of the snowstorm is due in on Saturday. The wind is blowing the snow into zero visibility, and there’s no chance of seeing clouds or blue skies.)

    • Yep, I was late popping in this week my sweet, sorry. Up to about all I can take with meetings, took a break, caught up with some blogs and as usual felt much better after reading your thoughts and that wee bit just popped into my head, glad you liked it xxxxxxx

  40. Normally I wouldn’t suggest this, Tom, but if this is the type of writing you accomplish when you’re running late and fed up with meetings, then maybe you should run late and be fed up more often.
    What you wrote is VERY good!

  41. Wow, such a beautiful post Marilyn! I’ve only just ‘discovered’ your blog and absolutely love it. Browsing through it and intuitively chose this one..”the way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost”..made me blink away a tear. Your mom must be a wonderful woman.

  42. Very perceptive site and a good post. Thanks!

  43. I more or less share your take on this subject and look forward to upcoming posts and comments here at Thanks!

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