Monday, November 26, 2007

Marilyn Taught Me How to Really Live

Marilyn Dreampeace in Joshua Tree, CA 2006 photo by Ken Duffy
(Click on photo for larger image.)

If you've reached adulthood you've likely known someone who has died. As you age, it happens more often. It's never easy, even if you know it's coming.

My dear friend, fellow ArtCar artist and traveling companion Marilyn Dreampeace departed last night. She had known for two years she had a rare, incurable form of cancer, and thankfully only suffered physical pain near the end. But what she did with her remaining time taught me how to really live while I'm here now.

I've often said that if I found out when I was going to die, and that it would be soon, I'd immediately book a world cruise. I'd want to see every exotic place I could, hear new languages, eat unusual food, and meet people from everywhere. I'd want to see wild and wonderful jungles and deserts, jagged mountains and beautiful beaches. I'd want to soak up the life of the world, its cities, its forests, the sunsets and sunrises. I'd want to stuff my eyeballs with images of aliveness.

When she got the news about her cancer, Marilyn's version of living fully was to retire from her job (as a mental health counselor for many, many years) and hit the road. She traveled in three different ArtCars in the past two years:

"Come Play With Me" by Marilyn Dreampeace photo by Ken Duffy
(Click on photo for larger image.)

"For the Birds" by Marilyn Dreampeace & Shalom Compost, painted by
Kelly Lyles photo by Emily Duffy
(Click on photo for larger image.)

"Wet Dreams" by Marilyn Dreampeace & Shalom Compost (painted by a Santa Cruz artist) photo by Ken Duffy
(Click on photo for larger image.)

Marilyn went to dozens of ArtCar festivals, even more music festivals, probably over a hundred folk art environments, and traveled the roads of America alone and with fellow artists like myself. Sometimes I wondered if she was trying to outrun the cancer but I think it was more likely she was trying to experience everything she loved to do, see great sights and favorite people, before she couldn't travel anymore.

I, and various other companions, traveled with Marilyn up and down the West Coast, to Oregon and Washington State. We went East to Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. She went on to places like Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota etc. but I had to turn back and frankly couldn't keep up with her.

Marilyn was very road-wise and knew where some of the most wonderful, weird, and arty things were hidden in America. She took us to Tinkertown (near Albuquerque, NM), where we saw sights like this:

Tinkertown photo by Emily Duffy
(Click on photo for larger image.)

She found a well hidden homestead called Eliphante (near Cornville, AZ):

Photo from Eliphante

We cruised old Route 66 and met folks like her friend Elmer Long, creator of the Bottle Tree Forest (Helendale, CA):

Bottle Tree Forest, photo by Emily Duffy
(Click on photo for larger image.)

Together we paid homage to the historic auto shrine, Cadillac Ranch (near Amarillo, TX):

Cadillac Ranch, photo by Emily Duffy
(Click on photo for larger image.)

We stayed at the Blue Swallow Motel (in Tucumcari, NM):

Blue Swallow, photo by Bill (Innkeeper of the Blue Swallow)
(Click on photo for larger image.)

We also overnighted at the famous Wigwam Motel (in Holbrook, AZ):

Wigwam Motel, photo by Emily Duffy
(Click on photo for larger image.)

(*Note: Many of the above destinations were arranged by Jo Owens for our group caravan to the Houston, TX Orange Parade in 2006.)

Marilyn, her sister Sunshine and Emily at the Houston ArtCar Ball 2006, photo by Ken Duffy
(Click on photo for larger image.)

Marilyn, thanks for showing me how to really live this precious life I've been given. It was a great pleasure knowing and loving you. Thanks for all the terrific adventures we've had together. I hope we'll meet again! Love, Emily.

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Blogger Tim said...

Well said, Emily.

Farewell, Marilyn. You've inspired me too.

9:25 PM  
Blogger acdose said...

Here's to Marilyn, Happy Trails!
We will miss you.

And thanks Emily for putting into words what we are all feeling.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Cheri said...

I miss her already, she was probably the most positive and vibrant person I knew. Definitely a major inspiration to all of us.

3:53 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thank you Emily for providing this space.

Good Bye Marilyn. You touched my life with your sincere warmth and generosity. You were one of the first people I got to know in the art car world and to this day whenever I see sparkly fabric I see the gleam in your eyes and the crinkle of your smile.
Because of you...
I remember to be kind.
My horizons expanded. I went to see the International Ice Carving Championships, Stomp and became inspired to travel seeking out the unusual.
I dare to sparkle.
I will remember and love you always.

7:29 AM  

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