To Connemoira, Eyes so Blue


Today is Sunday, a cool and cloudy day which I awoke to too early (about 6:30), still groggy from a long Saturday and hungry for some strange reason. I’d had plenty to eat the day before.

I was not raised in a religious family.  I was baptized (probably by my grandparents, or at their behest).  I went to Sunday school classes at least once or twice (probably when my grandparents were in town) at a church not unlike the one in the picture above. A modern church with few to no frills. There were no statues of pious saints, no Virgin Marys with stigmata, no confessionals. It was probably a Methodist church as there was one within walking distance of my house and Sunday mornings were generally reserved for hangovers. God and Christ were not discussed in my house although politics was often the subject of fierce debate.


Going to church – probably Easter Sunday.

When I was a teenager my best friend’s mother introduced me to the laying on of hands and speaking in tongues. She spent every spare moment praying in the drafty redbrick cathedral down along the Truckee River and sprinkled her conversations with “Jesus loves you” as she dreamt of doing missionary work in the Congo – an assignment generally not offered to a mother of five and, I should add, a devoted wife although the husband she was devoted to was none other than Christ Himself who came to her each night as her earthly family slept. She often told me what God wanted me to do and warned that failing to follow God’s commands would end badly for me.


St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral (from Wikipedia) in Reno Nevada

My friend made a meager attempt at rebelling against her mother by marrying a Methodist whose political views were in sync with Donald Trump.  The marriage was necessitated by a pregnancy at age seventeen and only lasted a few destructive years. He drank, took drugs, cheated on her, and raped their daughter. Despite what her mother claimed, no amount of prayer could ever have saved that marriage.

Once a gifted artist she took to painting twenty-foot scenes of forced abortions, cannibalism, and gang rapes in vibrant shades of pink, purple and lime green.


Jan at fifteen by Connemoira

Anyway it’s Sunday and the faithful are praying. I’m floating down the icy Truckee in an inner tube with Connemoira, whose eyes were so blue they put Lake Tahoe to shame, our long white legs bitten by dancing water spiders as we hide amidst the budding pussy willows from our enemies, the dull, dumb dumbleberries.  We’re dreaming of Lothlorien which neither of us will reach but at least once we believed and that, to quote Robert Frost, made all the difference.


Connemoira at 35 by Jan

RIP, C, or light the sky on fire.

23 thoughts on “To Connemoira, Eyes so Blue

  1. You’ve written about Connemoira before. What a team you must have made. The combo of your paintings of each other is touching. Thanks.

    1. Thank you. She actually passed away a few years ago – the strange cloud structure over the church made me think back to our youth.

    1. The family also had a history of manic depression and schizophrenia so religion was not to blame – although as children it was hard to make that distinction.

    1. Thank you. I’ve always treasured her early art work. Later pieces were difficult to view although I am happy she had a way to express all the anger that was inside her.

    1. I wish we had been closer. But we did share some glorious moments when we were young. I’ll always have those memories.

  2. Jan, your friend’s story is very sad, and so is her portrait painted by you. I can imagine that your friendship was one of the best moments of her life. Connemoira is such a beautiful name! Like Connemara, a rugged land in the west of Ireland. As I read your blog, I can see what a wonderful person you are. Thank you for sharing this post!

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