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After I came home from my latest oncology appointment, I sat in the sun and took a short walk, thinking that would cheer me up and wipe away my tears. Cancer is hard, no way of getting around it. The sun felt good on my face, but the walk was a struggle and reminded me of my cancer lingering in my lungs. I decided to take a nap. It was sort of a way of escaping for an hour.

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I got up, and I forced myself to dip my brush in bright red paint. I so want to complete this painting of Lucca, Italy, when I was there on a rainy, May afternoon. The bright colors I chose cheered my soul a bit. I love watching the water and paint move into places I direct it. And, I enjoy the happy wiggles of black I add as reflections on the wet cobblestone.

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The figure in the middle of this painting represents a man named Mario, who really lives in Lucca. Since I’ve been to Lucca four or five times, I’ve become more at home there, and even have folks there I count as treasured friends. I know Mario because I’m not just a tourist who breezes through for an hour in Lucca. Mario darts about with a little radio/music player. He likes to play it as he happily wanders about the many streets of Lucca, and he often sings opera along with his music. Maybe the locals have tired of him, maybe they love him. I certainly enjoy seeing him singing in his own happy world. I stop and listen to him, because I want to give him the respect I have for him.

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I’ve decided to take a lesson from Mario, and paint during cancer treatment. I certainly do not have one hundred percent energy these days, and my fingers are wobbly from neuropathy. These are two good reasons not to paint. However, I got back to this watercolor once again today, because, well, if Mario can sing opera in his world, I can paint in mine! It’s my way of making a joyful noise in my hard world of oncology. I think Mario would approve.

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