Summers and Saturdays

The last few months I have been contemplating exactly how to express what my latest completed mural means to me. In between tears of loss and tears of joy and pride, I am a bit speechless. In early spring I was given the opportunity to paint a custom mural for UGA School of Veterinary Medicine’s Pet Care Center. The building was up for a major overhaul and my friend and tinyATH gallery owner, Camille Hayes, recommended to them a mural by me to be included in the remodel. They were excited and said yes. I, of course, was thrilled.

You see, my father was an alumnus of the University of Georgia School of Veterinary Medicine. He decided in the late 1960s to leave his “secure” job managing at a local textile plant and go back to school to become a veterinarian. This was a little unorthodox as he had gone to college, served in the army, was already married with one child (my sister) and had a great job in general management. However he was not happy in his work and decided to make a change. This decision was always a major influence on my own choices. I wholeheartedly respected this and even though I never told him this, he was my hero.

This passed weekend, I was visiting my hometown and was struck with dream-like affair to see the “little brick building”, as he called his practice, completely gone. We, the family, had to sell it to the city to make way for a new city power infrastructure, which was inevitable, and had to run right through the property. I knew is was coming but it hadn’t fully sunken in. I gazed upon the vacant lot, slightly overgrown, yet devoid of everything except the parking lot (that was packed with clients on Saturdays). The only veterinarian in town, Dad famously (infamously?) worked Monday through Saturday and never took appointments. My mind reminisced all the dogs, cats, lizards, birds, pigs, turtles, and ferrets that came through there. My mind wandered to that Pine-Sol and bleach smell that wafted throughout the clinic. All the ups and downs of pet guardianship swirled through my brain. Him informing us kids to the front while he donned his lead apron to take X-Rays. Drawing doodles and animations at the front desk during down time on a Tuesday during the summer months. One summer while working out there, my brother and I would trade off break times by running across the 4 lane highway 74 to grab some RC Colas, a pack of Nabs’ (nabisco peanut butter crackers), and a pack of Marvel trading cards, getting excited about the beach vacation that was waiting for us around the corner.

So many Saturdays and summers. I wonder how many times I swept and mopped those floors. How many flea dips and baths did I do? Answering the phone, “Kings Mountain Animal Hospital, this is Will. How can I help you?”

It was tough at times for him I know as he was fiercely independent and a one man show, but he loved the work. He loved the science and the nurture of animals.

So for me to be able to continue his legacy with my career choice and skills in a joyous way was truly cathartic and humbling. It would have been really great if he was able to stick around and see it in person.

Amy Carter, the communications director for the vet school, wrote a wonderful piece on the whole project which ran the collegiate news circuit and landed in my hometown newspaper. He was not one for receiving attention, but I know he would be proud of this. When you have a chance, read the article here (Page 8A). Also I did a time-lapse video of it which you can watch right below.


Love you Pops,

Will

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