My Lady In Pink, “I jest live one day at a time...that’s all I gots!!!”
“God grant me the
SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change
COURAGE to change the things I can, And the
WISDOM to know the difference”
May I simply introduce you to, “My Lady In Pink!” I found her years ago on a road in Mississippi called the Sturgis/Maben Road way out in our Oktibbeha County.
There is “a stretch of road” filled with people who have been very poor and very much in poverty for years and years...and generations and generations. Immediately as one rides slowly along this very “stretch of road,” you sense that there is so very much poverty right in front of your very eyes.
I was cruising around and searching with my eyes for something to paint that day when suddenly right before me...was a white/haired...large...very old woman with a pink polka-dotted “homemade,” “home-sewn” very “large-sized” dress.
She was wearing old beat up, torn up, dirty old tennis shoes on her feet. There was a little tiny dog walking right beside her down this Sturgis/Maben Road. The little dog was on a rope, and suddenly she turned into her tiny “Home Sweet Home” which was really the size and shape of a huge cardboard box. I thought this is where she lives? Oh, My Gosh! To be honest, I nearly died when I saw her “box home!”
I slowly pulled my car over and into her path of drive way, and quietly without slamming my driver’s door got out of my car...slowly walked right behind her...she turned towards me and smiled and her only companion, this little “itsy bitsy” dog, just looked up at me... without barking with a frayed old rope tied around an old collar that was hanging loosely around his tiny neck.
My first words were, “Hello, I am Carole McReynolds Davis from down the road in Starkville...and I am artist out looking for a subject to paint. May I paint your portrait? She looked up at me and into my eyes and said, “Yes,” and won’t you come into my little house!”
I stepped into a dirt floor and inside of her tiny cardboard “so called” home and I went into shock! I silently thought, “this is a home? Come on now, it is just a box!”
Here she lived all alone here day after day except for her little dog. The little “box home” was as neat as it could be, but I just could not believe that a human being... a lady... could live in such conditions in my beloved Oktibbeha County. She lived and existed in complete poverty! I was in complete SHOCK!
Then I realized that “My Lady In Pink” was very happy, and she had a special joy deep inside her very heart and soul, and what a portrait, what a face, and what a human being I had by accident just found and discovered. Then I thought, finding her was not an accident, but finding her was meant to be.
It was predestination, “whatever will be, will be” this early morning, and could I have cruised down this Sturgis/Maben Road merely looking for a subject to paint....was I lead to her? I think so!
Here she stood right inside her “box home”... “happy as a lark” and she had nothing. I looked around and ask her, what do you have to eat? She reached up high in a sorta “homemade” cabinet which was another type of big old box which she called a cupboard.
She pulled out a small red box of raisins. “Here is what I eat, raisons, would you like some?” “I got a friend going into Starkville to pick me up some raisins from the welfare office up there and bring them out to me since I don’t drive, wasn’t that nice now for her to do this for me!”
She slowly opened up the old box and I could see that black ants were crawling all around inside that box on top and over all those raisins. I could see them because they were moving around on the shiny raisins having their early morning snack as well. I tried to be gracious and simply said, “thank you very much, but I don’t think I’ll have any raisins today, maybe another day, but I surely do appreciate your asking me to share a raisin or two with you this morning.” I just could not bring myself to open my mouth and eat a raisin and an ant too.
I was in shock, and my heart began to beat faster, and I got almost angry...poverty in my beloved Mississppi is well and thriving...and this is so very sad!
I remember one sentence she said that has stayed with me all of these years. One powerful sentence she said that I shall never ever forget. “I am so happy today cause I woke up alive and well, and I am so happy to just be alive today!” “God let me live today!”
Here stood in front of me a lady who existed in poverty at its best, poverty that I had never quite seen or experienced before my very eyes, and I felt that I was experiencing the what really struggling to live might be.
I had just found and discovered a larger than life sized “My Lady In Pink!”
I had just been given a “blessing from heaven” to find a real LADY who had true happiness in her very heart and soul just because she woke up this one sunny day in a tiny box home with her only companion, a tiny dog and to have for her breakfast, a raisin and an ant or two!
I felt such a sense of sadness for her, towards her, and my own heart suddenly ached for her existence and her state of deep poverty she lived in and merely existed among. It was so very sad to me,and I wondered how can I help her?
My answer... “I can paint her face, her portrait. I am about to paint poverty. I am about to sketch then paint a most moving and powerful painting indeed!”
It was a hot, more like sweltering, Mississippi early morning as the sunshine streamed across her damp, dirt floor. The bright shadows of the early morning sunshine cast dark black shadows along with the bright shadows across her floor and the very inside of her tiny little cardboard box of her “home.”
The shadows danced across her white face and suddenly I spotted one drop of sweat dripping from the tip of her nose, as it trickled on down to her pointed chin and onto her sagging neck.
It was good ‘ole summer time in Mississippi on the Sturgis/Maben Road and it was hotter than hot that early morning time, and I knew it would get hotter as this day worn on and into early afternoon.
I had left my comfortable cool air-conditioned home in the summer time...with plenty of food in my cupboard to eat, with a fresh unopened red box of raisins without even one ant crawling around inside my box.
I felt so blessed ... maybe “too blessed” and I told myself, “I should be oh so grateful for the many material things I had been given and taken for granted and sorta expected in my life every day that I woke up and got out of bed.”
I had just met “My Lady In Pink” who had nothing. She was a human being, she had so little, and she was in what I would call, “pure poverty!” She was my neighbor, down the road from my home, and she was happy! Oh, what a blessing she was to me! I was about to paint poverty and happiness together!
Share with me now one of the most touching and powerful paintings that I shall ever have the honor and the opportunity to paint.
Look into her eyes as she squints from the bright sunshine of Mississippi’s sweltering heat of a summer’s day. Her white, white skin and her rosy cheeks, her large nose and that one dripping drop of sweat from the very tip of her red nose. Her thin lips have a certain determination of survival as her lips almost turn into a smile. Look at her rosy chin and her sagging pink almost rosy neck. See her pink home-sewn, home-made polka dotted dress.
Glance up at her soft flowing sweaty hot head as her white thinning curly white hair mixed with touches of light brown fall down on her neck and onto her shoulders.
I used a black background to represent the dire poverty she existed lived in..yet she was so very happy! What a contrast, her pure white skin color and her dark black existence of what I call “pure poverty.”
I was oh, so inspired to paint her because inside her heart and soul she has... oh such a sweetness, a joy... and she kept on telling me over and over again, “You know...I thank God for what I have cause I woke up alive today, this one day again!”
What was her real name? It was Rosie Manns. I understand the day she did go on to the Church Triumphant, she was out walking down the Sturgis/Maben Road just like I had spotted her, walking back home to her cardboard box “home.”
She went back home to her real home, HEAVEN, and I wondered whatever happened to her tiny dog?
“My Lady In Pink”...truly did have the “SERENITY to accept the things she could not change, she had the COURAGE to change the things she could change, and she had the WISDOM to know the difference!” I can still hear her very words right now...“I jest live one day at a time...that’s all I gots!”