My Uncle Vance died from Covid 19 or the so-called Corona Virus.  So much of what happened to him and his family as he suffered was unfair and sad.  Because of restrictions and more, they were not really allowed to be with him in those final moments.  What a sad thing!  They were able to have a small funeral!  I am so grateful we could mourn the passing of my Uncle Vance and do something to celebrate his life!

If I had been able to see him before he died and if he had been able to understand me, I would have thanked him for something he did for me.  I am sure, despite age and other factors, he would not have remembered this experience.  However, I have never forgotten it.  It impacted me significantly–and is still impacting me!  It is amazing how such a little thing can make such a difference!
I was about 10 years old and quite the aspiring artist.  My family encouraged me so very much!  My cousin Shelly–a teenager at the time–taught me private art lessons.  When she was no longer available, my mom helped me to get lessons from two other wonderful teachers.  I loved to draw!  I loved to create wonderful pieces of art.  I am not sure that I was that good, but I loved it!
We would probably never allow this now, but it was a different time back when I was ten.  My mom actually allowed me to take the public transportation system downtown to the local art museum.  I had to take like three buses and it took over an hour to get there.  I learned how to pay my fares, get transfers, and get to the right streets and stops.  So, with art pad and pencil I ventured off!
I loved to go the 4th floor where there was a knight in shining armor on a beautiful white steed!  Such feelings of fantasy, adventure, and chivalry filled my young mind.  So, I planted myself down on a bench nearby and began to draw the Knight.  I spent hours there drawing that Knight on his valiant white horse!
Being young, I did not plan my drawing very well.  I have always loved horses, so I started my drawing with the horse.  Unfortunately, I did not allow enough room at the top of the paper for my knight.  So, I had to modify the drawing and tilt the knight’s head a bit to get him even in at the very top edge of the paper.  I was pleased with my creativity and thought no more about it.
Eventually, I added to my knight drawing an eagle, a wildlife scene, and more.  My mom encouraged me to frame and display my artwork.  So, we thought of Uncle Vance and his work matting and framing the amazing pictures he took!  He also helped take care of my cousin Shelly’s awesome artwork.  My mom arranged a visit.
Uncle Vance was a giant of a man–literally.  To me, at my small 10 years of age, he may have been the largest man I had ever met!  He gave me one of his big hugs and invited me downstairs.  He asked to see my work!  I showed him what I had done!  He was so encouraging and said he would be happy to frame my pictures for me.  I was so pleased in myself and felt so happy inside!  He believed in me and was going to help me!
We arrived some week’s later to pick up the work and were surprised when Uncle Vance said he was not going to charge us for the frames and his time.  He offered it free of charge.  But, then he did something that would change me forever.  He pulled me aside and told me how I could pay for his work!
Uncle Vance showed me my Knight picture and to the nearest of my recollection said, “Here’s the story, Kid!  This is a really great picture and you did an excellent job, but you did not plan it out very well.”  Then, he took the time to teach me how to plan out a picture, develop a frame or plan for how it will fit on the paper, and how to assure that it would fully fit.  He taught me how to measure, plan, and prepare.  Then, he challenged me to do this with every piece of work I created.  He told me that this was how I could pay him for what he had done for me.

Well, that advice helped to improve my artwork.  I began to do exactly as he taught me before I ever put pencil to paper.  I started thinking ahead of time, measuring, and preparing in advance so I could capture the best picture possible.  It worked!  But something even more amazing happened!  I began to do this with the rest of my life too!

A life well lived includes planning, measuring, and preparing.  Uncle Vance taught me this.  I learned to look at what I wanted to accomplish, think it through, and plan it out.  Preparation is a sure key to greater success.  Think it out, prepare, frame it, and plan before you ever take action.  Whatever you set out to do, please stop and reflect first.  Plan it out.  Measure.  Frame it.  Create your steps.

The best of creation and execution happen in the mind well before it hits the canvas.  This is true with art and photography.  Uncle Vance taught me it was even more so in life.

So, as you go forward in your day and life, stop and take a moment to see if you are really living the life you want to live.  Are you just jumping in and cramming everything in without much thought?  Are you running out of time and space?  Are you running out of time and just bending things to make them fit?  If so, stop and do what Uncle Vance taught me.

I am blessed because I learned to plan, measure, and prepare!  I learned that from a giant of a man who taught me!  Thank you Uncle Vance!