I dedicate this reflection to the parents I interact with year to year and day to day. I also dedicate it to the two young men I’m blessed to call sons.
Since the first day of this 2019–20 school year, and still fresh on my mind, is the reality I felt while walking across campus with neither of my sons present. It really hurt knowing their days on campus are complete, and their high school seasons are over. I missed them in a whole new way.
Contributing to the void, on that first day, was my involvement in setting up this year’s senior class photo props. As I had done for my sons’ senior classes, I was asked to render a 2020 set of the Seniors/Eagle Talons photo props.
As voids go—they are meant to be filled. So, I proceeded to enjoy the people whom I served. On their faces, I recognized that unique combination of joy and pride amidst the realization, “this is the beginning of the end.” What a privilege it was to be near them. Of course, I also recalled the wonderful memories with my boys.
Here are some of those memories I created with them during their senior years. (Included are some recent ones, too.) How remarkable it is watching them figure out their wings as they take flight into maturity. And therein is the inspiration for this artwork, A Fledgling Flight.
To many in our small town, Raffaele will long be remembered as the face of the Dienger Trading Co. An encounter with him—that is, his Italian accent, striking blue eyes, and peaceful personality—has a way of inviting you to be right at home.
During the opening days of the Dienger, I simply enjoyed listening to him speak. When the opportunity to showcase my art on their walls came about, he was helpful and sincerely interested in my work and success. Throughout all my experience with them, Raffaele’s impression was a big reason for my draw to that place.
Prior to my part-time employment (as barista) throughout 2018, I observed his efficiency on the floor and admired his ability to connect with people. My “interview” with him and the head chef was surprisingly brief and to the point, “Welcome! How many hours can you work?”
What I soon discovered, on the other side of the counter, was Raffaele to be as genuine a good and whole person as he appeared to be in public. His ability to play/appreciate music and his deep passion for sommelier work certainly shined through, too. Amidst the intensity that is part of food service, and sometimes-hostile work environment, his proficiency and empathetic ways affected everyone for good. When it comes down to it, he’s just an enjoyable person to know.
Raffaele, his dear wife, and their precious son left Boerne in December 2018, to return home to Italy. But really, Raffaele is at home wherever he is. It’s this quality in him that inspired me to create his portrait as The Face of the Dienger.
Visiting the Dienger isn’t quite the same for me these days, but I’m glad I can stay in touch with my friends. And you can too! Visit Martini & Company.