Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Remembering Tid Kowalski and Bunny Aubrey

I'm sad. I read in the paper today that Bunny just died and just a couple years ago while I was on a cruise in Mexico Tid died. Who were these ladies? These ladies were my good friends I traveled with and painted with them for a month in Montone Italy a few years ago. We studied with Daniel Lang and I loved being there with them all.

These were no ordinary ladies. These were real women. Really good painters and hard drinkers and great conversationalists. I liked them a lot. And now it is hard to believe they are both gone. What if I have a question for one of them?

They did not create your typical boring "so I am on old lady painting in Italy" paintings. They painted with character. Tid was an artist most of her life, raised her kids alone and was quite a beauty in her day. At her 75th birthday party I saw an old photo of her on the fridge and she looked a lot like Lauren Becall. On the flight over she told me she had been married five times. I said we would have a month together so she could fill me in on each and every marriage and so she did.

For her 75th birthday she asked me as a sculpture to create in clay her cake topping decorations. We decided to put a small portrait of each of her husbands on her cake.
It scandalized the baker at Bud's bakery. She looked at us like we were crazy. We decided to create each of her husbands ( 3 inches in size) in a black suit like they were laying in their caskets, arm crossed and all. Well, that was how I portrayed 4 husbands. The one she really loved, the father of her children I put up on his elbows holding a heart, her heart. She really loved him. He died too young.
Tid lived to be a fine old lady. She has a Unitarian minister for a son and a professor for another son. Her father was a painter. She used to come and visit me in my pottery shop and we dreamed of going to Italy together for a second time.

On one of our day trips we were going to see the the tomb of St Francis of Assesi and Bunny and Tid wanted to stop for a cocktail on the way up the hill. They could both drink a strong drink and continue the hike up the hill and carry on for the rest of the day full speed ahead. I could not keep up with them so I chose not to have a nip in the afternoon. They would also invite me in for a stiff drink every now and then in the convent where we stayed. Whew.

Tid's paintings included a romantic Italian village scene with a bright yellow bulldozer right in the middle. A delightful surprise in the painting with a reality check of the romanticism of Italy. She fought with Daniel Lang, our charming and talented painting instructor, on occasian. They had a bit of a clash of personalities. He was soft spoken and gentle and she could not hear him and talked over him a lot. It was kind of funny to watch them spat.

I don't remember Bunny's paintings as much but I remember she was a decent painter and a great journal keeper. She later gave me a copy of her writings about everything we did. I still have it and it is a wonderful reminder of where we went and when and what we did.
Bunny was not that old but had quite the Carol Burnett shuffle. She could get anywhere but chances are she would shuffle to get there whether it was up a steep bunch of steps or to the table to get another sip. Later Bunny showed signs of Alzheimer's and it got her. And today I saw her obit in the paper.
We three pulled a few pranks together. I would go to their room and practice my imitation of a nun, throwing a black sweater over my head with a white napkin across the forehead. We would go try and scare Americans with the evil eye of the nun as I looked over my wire rim glasses in my nun garb. That was with no alcohol!
Jay Brothers and his wife were also on the same art adventure. They had a lovely romantic month and I would hear beautiful music coming from their room and his wife bore a similarity to Doris Day as she gazed out the window and watched Jay paint. I saw the glee in his eye as he came back from painting on a country road one afternoon bragging how he had "saved" a young female artist traveling with us. He saved her under a tree. I generally referred to her as belly button girl because her belly button was always peaking out from her tight shirt and pants and she often complained about the foreign men following her around. Duh! And Jay was delighted to think he had "saved" her religiously. I wonder how long that lasted. That was quite a save. I was sad to hear Jay died a few years later as well. But oh what a lovely summer he had with his wife that year. I saw it!

Oh I am sorry they are all gone now.

Life if precious. Time changes everything. We should never take each other for granted. Friendship and times with our friends is precious. As I get older I realize this more and more. There should be no time for bickering and petty arguments. What a waste of time that is! Life is too short. We should enjoy every moment we can.


  1. I'm sorry to hear you have lost your friend, now two of them.

  2. Dear Linda, This is Jeff Kowalski (the professor son). I don't think I know you extremely well, but I must have met you at that 75th birthday party for my mother, Tid. I well remember the great cake with the dead husbands, and the special figure of Al Kowalski, my dad, the one who died too young. Having been eight at the time I definitely have to agree. Your memories of Tid are wonderful. I have several of the paintings she did in Montone, including two looking across tiled rooftops to a more distant landscape that are wonderful combinations of observation and simplified abstract planar composition (a bit reminiscent of Paul Cezanne, but I like hers better). I remember she said that the instructor told her that she had "tender colors." For all her carousing, hamming it up, and ability to throw back a drink, I think they matched her tender heart. Tomorrow (January 7th) will be the second anniversary of her death. She was a wonderful mom and a great spirit, still living within me, though gone physically. All my best to you and yours. You are right, life and our friends are precious. Jeff Kowalski (

  3. Thank you Jeff!
    I will propose a toast for her life today! I cannot believe it has been 2 years. No wonder I miss her so much. If you come to Tulsa, find me and we will get together and talk good Mom "Tid" times. I loved traveling with her. Thank you for taking time to tell me more.

  4. Dear Linda,
    I have the clay figurines of dead husbands you crafted for Tid's 75th B-Day. Such a hoot. I'm glad to know that Tid was still racing up the hills on the Italian trip--I have a few of those paintings, watercolors, which are really some of her better work. She slowed down quite a bit and wasn't racing up many hills in her later years, but still remained lively and filled with spunk right up to the time of her final illness two years ago. I can just imagine her talking over the art instructor! Thanks for such a warm personal remembrance of my mom. I'll try to keep up her artsy tradition, even if I can't always match her zesty approach to life.
    Gary Kowalski