This beautiful spring weekend I said goodbye to an old friend, my nearly constant companion in the garden. He was a member of my family, even though I’d never physically touched him before he became too ill to avoid it. Feral cats are capable of some of the deepest devotion I’ve seen from any being, including the human ones. I plan to tell my sweet old friend’s story here over the next few months, as a tribute to his faithfulness and as a way to re-find myself as an artist and a writer.
My diagnosis of autism some six years ago, in my early fifties, has been liberating in some ways. I’ll speak later of ways it hasn’t been so positive. At least I now understand why so much has seemed desperately hard for me through the years, while other aspects of my life have appeared freakishly easy—but now it’s time to remember the person I am, separate from that diagnosis. Before I had my label, I called myself a narrative artist and a visual writer; after it, I became an activist. That is a good thing to be. I have no intention of abandoning it. Instead, I’m returning to the things that have always offered the sustenance I need to keep up with the fierce demands of that calling and the abuse it generates.
My garden and its inhabitants are my strength and solace against those storms. My dear old teddybear of a companion gave off a warmth tangible and nourishing as sunlight when he sat on my back steps, occasionally blinking a sweet-eyed message of affection while I dug and weeded and watered. He wasn’t just a picturesque piece of urban décor, though—he was a person of great courage, astonishing loyalty, and staggering perseverance.
I plan to tell his story in a series of short vignettes illustrated in a style I’d abandoned for the quicker, more dramatic effects of 3D art. Here, I’ll use a more personal technique—more painstaking for a simpler result. The penwork is done on a digital tablet, but every stroke is by hand, and a choice. As in anything else, no choice here is the perfect one, but the imperfections are intimate and heartfelt, as befits the subject.