April 8, 2010
It is late as I write this but tomorrow begins the road trip home and I want to be certain not to lose that sense one gets when an event has shifted something within. And, that’s what happened today.
I had a remarkable time with Phyllis, another June Taylor Dancer with whom I danced at the end of the fourth, and final, season of the Jackie Gleason show in New York City.
Memories of Phyllis did not have clarity for me as they did with Joan. Perhaps it is because we danced together a very short time and my attention, during the countdown of our final season, had turned to acting studies since the television show was moving to Miami.
However, when I met Phyllis early this morning, there was an immediate recognition of her facial features that triggered bursts of memories. And, the years comprised of more than four decades since we last saw one another quickly dissolved into the present. We talked for hours about our lives as dancers and performers and the years that followed. We did not speak of frivolities but of politics, religion, Jackie Gleason and his extraordinary talents, June Taylor and her tough love towards us, her “girls”, marriages, divorce, death, having children and not having them, living alone, angels, and God.
This beautiful, talented lady is the mother of a thirty-year old son as well as two daughters, twenty-nine and twenty-two years of age. She is petite in stature but has a light and spirit within that illuminates everything around her. Phyllis’s delicately chiseled facial features appear as though a master sculptor had been at work and there is an auric mystery that emanates from her. I wanted to capture this intangible quality and paint her portrait. I had a camera though, not paint brushes and a canvas.
It is said that God provides us with what we need. This day presented a very bright Florida sun and glare. Yet, with this “play” of bright light, there was one image that created exactly what I wanted — a painting.
And in one brief moment, I caught this smile, which reflected the illumination I saw from her throughout the day. I do not believe that Phyllis is aware of how stunning and haunting her countenance is, which brings an even deeper authenticity to her being. However, this image reveals these truths.
We concluded our time together having discovered and recognized our kindred spirits and embraced knowing that a foundation was laid for a lasting friendship. It is my honor to know you Phyllis and thank you for your gifts of spirit, strength, beauty, and courage. You have inspired me.