The Beach Painting


The Beach Painting (circa 1998) by Jō Mikals Adachi. Find more of his work here.

The Beach Painting (circa 1998) by Jō Mikals Adachi. Find more of his work here.


Me: (walking, seemingly aimless around the house, holding up signs)

Hank: (finding me in the hallway) Mom, are you okay?

Me: Yup.

Hank: (curiosity peeked) What are you doing?

Me: Trying to find a place to hang these signs.

Hank: Why?

Me: Because I want them in plain view, in a place to be seen often and I’m walking around the house looking to find just the right spot.

Hank: What about here in the hallway, under The Beach Painting?

Me: No one spends time in the hallway. It is a thoroughfare.

Hank: (admiring the painting) I do. I love this painting.

Me: You do? Tell me why you love it.

Hank: Because it reminds me of me, but I know it isn’t me because it has always been here and I have not always been this big.


Hank: And the boy in the painting is doing my favorite thing in the world.

Me: Is that right?

Hank: Yes, he’s climbing on these rocks by the sea and I love to climb on rocks by the sea.

Me: You do. The person in that painting isn’t a boy, though.

Hank: It could be anyone. That is why I like it.

Me: Could it?

Hank: You could hang your sign here, right under the painting and I would see it.

Me: Huh.

Hank: Who is the person in the painting, mom?

Me: Jeni, Iris and Bill’s daughter.

Hank: Oh, your best friend when you were young.

Me: Yes. Your uncle Jō painted this for me from a photograph I took of her. He literally stole the photo from my apartment to paint the painting then he gave them both back to me. This was a very special day and how I always like to think of her.

Hank: I love this painting.

Me: I will tell your uncle Jō.

Hank: Are you going to hang your sign here?

Me: No, I don’t think so.

Hank: You will find the right place.

Me: (wistful) Thanks, buddy.

Hank: (leaving then turning back) You miss her?

Me: (still standing in front of the painting, lost in thought) Yes.

Hank: Good thing you have the painting and you always carry her in your heart.

Me: I do.

Hank: She died, didn’t she mom.

Me: She did, yes.

Hank: I love the painting more now.

Me: Do you?

Hank: Before I made the painting about me, but now it’s like I’ve met her and I know we both like to climb on rocks by the sea.

Me: That’s a lovely thought.

Hank: Do you want help with your signs, mom?

Me: (having forgotten all about my silly motivational signs) Um…

Hank: Hang one in your office where we all work accept Molly since she’s only two and hang one… here on the bookshelf door by the kitchen. We all pass by here everyday. I promise I will see it. Did you make these signs for me?

Me: Yes, I thought these ten things were a good anchor to keep you grounded as you’re growing up so fast. When I was young whenever I left my mother’s side she would always remind me to be kind.

Hank: And you are kind. Everyone says that.

Me: Well, her wish for me stuck.

Hank: I’ll go get you some tape to hang your signs, okay?

Me: Sure, thanks buddy. (still standing in front of The Beach Painting realizing it has been 22 years since we stood on that beach and 22 years since she left us)

Hank: (calling from the kitchen, breaking the spell) Mom, I can’t reach the tape plus papa’s exercise machine is in front of the shelf and you told me not to mess with the machine so I can’t help you unless you help me first. (literally saying the word “hashtag” before each phrase) #imtooshort #timeforagymmembershippapa

Me: (side smile, walking away from the past and into the present) #momlife

conversations with hank