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Giving the Gift of Appreciation

Kathy Grossman
Dubai United Arab Emirates
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 4, August-September 2005, p. 83.

It was a dark and stormy afternoon at Pittsburgh's (Pennsylvania, USA) autumn crafts fair, "Penn's Colony." As my mother and I strolled up to the entrance the rain started, so we huddled with other shoppers under a large picnic pavilion. The rain eventually turned to dry gray skies, and my mother went looking for baskets while I found myself in a tent looking at the original works of an artist whose prints I'd long admired in a gallery near my North Hills home.

Robert Griffing does oil paintings of the eastern frontier of the USA: Iroquois Indians, French and British soldiers, and early settlers in the woods and along the rivers of Western Pennsylvania in pre-Revolutionary settings. As I studied his paintings, I realized there was another person in that soggy tent dressed as a frontiersman in leathers and skins. As I approached the sales table with some notecards, I realized the lanky, bearded frontiersman was Robert Griffing himself.

This was my moment: my face-to-face chance to appreciate a person whose work took my breath away with its attention to natural and historical detail. I looked into his eyes and said, "Mr. Griffing, I just wanted to tell you how much I've enjoyed your work. You've made me 'see' the early times in my own back yard here in Pittsburgh." Simple. Heartfelt. A little bit shaky and not particularly eloquent. He said, "I'm happy to hear that" and rang up the notecards I'd selected. I strode off into the muddy slush of the fairgrounds to find my mother and a bag of kettle corn.

My words hadn't been particularly brilliant, I hadn't brought a prepared speech on notecards, and I certainly hadn't expected him to throw his arms around me and thrust a free painting on me or anything. But I had said something very important to me and I hope slightly important to him.

The next time you attend an LLLI or Area Conference, International Mastery Symposium, or other LLL gathering, take the opportunity to offer the gift of appreciation to the Founders, Leaders, administrators, companies that support breastfeeding, and authors you admire -- maybe even to the odd cartoonist. You may only get one chance. It may be in a crowded elevator, in line in a toilet facility, or as you change your baby's diaper in the Rock and Rest Room. You may be a bit nervous and inarticulate. And, even though it may be one of a number of compliments and words of gratitude they hear, don't let the opportunity for genuine appreciation slip by. Mr. Griffing may never remember my face or my comments about his artwork on that gray September afternoon five years ago, but I will always feel proud that I spoke my heart to him in person. It certainly meant the world to me.

Kathy Grossman lives with her husband, Tom, and son, Monty (16), in the United Arab Emirates. Her sons, Sam (22) and Ed (20), are in college in the USA. Kathy has led in seven different Areas throughout the Northern Hemisphere. To preview the art of Robert Griffing, you can visit various art gallery and print sales Web sites. Kathy also recommends the book, The Art of Robert Griffing: His Journey into the Eastern Frontier.

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