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Noted in Passing: Conor Walton: ‘The Key’

My son Daniel was diagnosed with leukemia when he was four, and we had two desperate years where we battled to save his life. When we finally got him home after his bone marrow transplant, I started this painting, which I had for so long wanted to paint.

He was still very sick and we were unsure if he’d make it through. As it happened, he recovered fully, and the painting (done from life over the following year) evolved as he returned to health. For me, however, the meaning of the painting is still tied up with the alternative outcome. It’s both a celebration of his release from medical confinement, and the picture I would have wanted to have if we’d lost him. — More at Conor Walton: ‘The Key’ Essay

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  • ghostsniper August 5, 2021, 6:21 PM

    That’s a good painting right there.
    And a good story.

  • Rob De Witt August 5, 2021, 10:23 PM

    How utterly beautiful, the painting as well as the essay. How welcoming, and what a mature acceptance of harsh realities.

    And what a contrast to a “power trio” still desperately engaged in pissing off their parents.

  • Annie Rose August 6, 2021, 6:57 AM

    When our oldest daughter was 11, we had a major medical scare with her. Through a common eye exam we discovered that something was putting an extreme amount of pressure on her optic nerves and brain. Follow up testing revealed that all of the sutures of her skull had prematurely fused together and her growing brain had been slowly carving out canyons inside her skull, probably since the age of 4. She should have had excruciating headaches, blurred vision, trouble walking, and cognitive issues, but had had none of those symptoms. How do you tell your little girl that doctors are going to peel her scalp like a grape, crack her skull open like a walnut, cut out sections, move a section forward, and then staple her back up? How do you as her parent come to an acceptance? Having had other crises in our lives, we chose to pray and operate on auto-pilot. The surgery was scheduled within the month, but we were assured that we could have waited several months until the school year ended. When the surgeons opened up her skull, they realized that the pressure from her brain was even worse than they had known. They had to cut two additional openings in the area of her temples. If we had postponed the surgery for three months, she would have suffered massive hemorrhaging and been left a vegetable. It was only by the grace of God that things worked out the way they did. A year later, she had a follow up surgery to shave off bone chips and place them into the openings to grow into place and fill in. We were asked years later if as a couple we had ever “mourned” through our feelings about the whole situation and processed them. No, we had been too busy trying to survive the horror, making our daughter feel safe, and giving thanks for the miracle that she was still alive. Twenty years later, we are still so very grateful that she is here. The human spirit is so much more resilient than most of us realize.

  • julie August 6, 2021, 12:17 PM

    Annie, what an incredible story. Thank God things worked out as they did, and I am so glad to hear that twenty years on, she is still here with you!

  • Vanderleun August 6, 2021, 4:03 PM

    Dear Annie, God bless you and your family and hold you close. Amen.

  • PA Cat August 7, 2021, 7:39 AM

    Dear Annie Rose–
    Ditto what Gerard said; there’s nothing I can add to his words except another Amen.

  • ghostsniper August 8, 2021, 2:56 PM

    That was 20 years ago. I wonder if that quality of service is available today?