Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm sick and sentimental

First of all, if you don't feel like reading random philosophical thoughts you should probably stop here. I'm in a thinking mood and need some sort of outlet.

I've had plenty of stuff to post about lately but I just haven't pushed the right keys on my keyboard to make these words pop up on your screen. I'm a little sick after a weekend excursion in the cold fall air followed by returning to a house also unfortunately filled with cold fall air.

This morning one of my art professors at Marshall University died while on a hunting trip; a heart attack is suspected. His name was Stan Sporney and I had him for figure drawing. I sent an online message to his daughter (whom I had class with and who has always been very supportive of me and my art) telling her the best memories I had of her dad. In a school where drawing cartoons was heavily frowned upon and thought to be an obvious sign of goofing off and lack of talent, he was the only professor I had that believed things like comic books were a good and worthwhile art without me having to do any convincing. I don't know if he was a comic fan, but I do know he was a fan of artists following their own vision even if their practice was not widely considered "fine art," and he did everything he could to encourage me and my fellow students to keep at it.

It's just...odd. I don't really consider myself old yet but I guess it must be true that the older you get the more people you see die until it just becomes normal. The thing that always comes to my mind first when someone dies is that nobody will ever get to ask them a question again. I'm sure that seems odd because I myself find it odd. No matter how simple a question it is, if only that person knew the answer you will never know it. What did they have for breakfast? What did they think about a movie? I guess in a weird way I'm obsessed with things that you absolutely cannot get back, which is probably why I'm obsessed with things from my childhood: TV shows, toys, video games. I mean in a way you can get all those things back, but you can never be a kid again.

Last week a guy named Fred who worked at the local K-Mart passed away. Before Wal-Mart rolled into town and took over, this particular K-Mart was the place to shop. According to his obituary Fred had worked at K-Mart for 20 years, which I can vouch for because I remember seeing him there when I was a kid. He was still way too young to expect him to pass, though, as he didn't look out of his thirties to me. Before my dad got a digital camera he would always take his film to K-Mart to get it developed because Fred was there and would make sure that Dad's prints were done right, done early, and would always call him personally when they were ready. They would make small-talk about stuff like Family Guy and Fred would offer to let my dad borrow his DVD set so Dad could watch them. I know this is sappy and goofy, but somebody with enough kindness to let what may as well be a complete stranger borrow something from them ending up working at K-Mart for 20 years only to die young and with little fanfare just breaks my heart.

I guess that's one good thing about being a teacher; you touch so many peoples lives in ways that you'll probably never even know that they will always remember you, and fondly, if you're someone like Sporny.


7 comments:

Randall said...

Sorry for your loss. Teachers passing is one of those strange and unexpected things... you think about family dying sometimes, and you think about strangers dying, but teachers are in that odd place in the middle. It sounds like he meant something to you though, so my condolences. I hope you feel better soon.

Liz Mizell said...
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Liz Mizell said...
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Liz Mizell said...
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Liz Mizell said...
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Liz Mizell said...
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Liz Mizell said...

I also had Stan Sporney, but at LSU. I learned so much from that fiqure drawing class, and went to look him up ip after 20 years. I was going to mail him a caricature I had done in class. When we (students ) left our portfolios for grading, and I went to pick it up, he had taped it to his wall . I took it down because I wanted it. I looked him up because I wanted to mail him the picture, and saw that he had passed 6 months earlier. I was so sad to hear.