My sister-in-law and I take a week vacation in August to go to our local antique show in Bouckville, NY. We usually start on the Sunday before the big weekend and spend the week scouring the fields daily. Typically, (I don’t know why) I make a statement about what I want to find – I don’t know if it is to “put it out there” in the universe or what… but that year I stated “I want to buy a piece of art – cheap.”And… almost the first booth I went to, I found a piece of art –an oil painting that was on the ground propped up against a plastic box. I picked it up and looked at it and thought it would look good in my living room. It didn’t have a frame AND it had a small hole in it. It was a beach scene in Hawaii (I guessed this based on the information on the back of the canvas), and I thought it was from around the 1930’s. I brought it over to the owner and asked, “How much?’ After he grabbed it out of my hands, he said… “Oh, I’ve got to get $20 bucks for this!” Since I already was holding a small beaded bag that he said I could “have” for $35, I asked if he’d “do” $50 for both. He said yes and I handed him a $50 bill. We put the painting in two small plastic bags (one on each end) and I tucked it under my arm and went on my merry way.
A little while later, while I was walking around with the painting still tucked under my arm, I heard a weird buzzing sound and then SMACK, a bug hit me in the center of my forehead! (I even had a baseball hat and glasses on.) I started to freak out because I thought it was a Japanese beetle, and flicked at it and it landed on my shorts… and when I when looked down and I saw that it was a ladybug. I scooted it off me and said, “Ladybug, bring me some good luck, help me find something good.”… I didn’t know I already had found it.When the day was done, I opened the back door of my car, and tossed my $20 painting in the back seat and went home.
A few days later I started to wonder about the artist. I thought the painting looked like it had been painted by someone who know what he/she was doing. I “Googled” the signature and couldn’t believe my eyes. I had bought a painting by a famous American artist!
My husband and I did more research about the artist and decided that we couldn’t keep something so potentially valuable – and make sure it was properly cared for. So… I contacted a few auction houses in New York City and Brunk Auctions in North Carolina. All three agreed to sell my painting. I decided to use with Brunk Auctions, because they gave me personal attention and I knew up front what the costs would be. I sold the painting in January of 2006. We watched the auction through a live auctioneering site. It took only 28 seconds for it to be sold for a lot more than my $20 investment.
But that isn’t the best part of the story…
After the sale of the painting, I thought, “Now that I have this money, I want to make sure I’m around to enjoy it” and called my doctor’s for a regular checkup and a mammogram.
My mammogram was scheduled for February 8, 2006. After my mammogram, I sat in the waiting area for a long time. I don’t remember how many women came and went while I was still sitting there. Finally the technician came in and told me the doctor wanted a ultrasound because he saw a cyst. The ultrasound showed a mass right next to the cyst. A few weeks later, I had a biopsy and it was confirmed – I had breast cancer. This was very difficult news to hear and realize that even though I felt fine, there was this evil “thing” lurking in my body. I had a couple of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. And, one and a half years later, I was finally “done.”
Using the word “done” isn’t a word that I use lightly. I don’t know if you are ever “done” with this type of thing. I try to keep a positive attitude, but you know it can come back and “smack you in the face” again. I am choosing to believe that I did all the necessary work (surgery, chemo, radiation) so that I am, in fact, “done” and that I won’t be sharing my body with cancer again.
So… that’s my painting story. I truly believe that if I hadn’t sold the painting in January, I might not have scheduled my mammogram until later in the year and my diagnosis might have been worse. I was lucky – and I think the ladybug did help me “find something good.”
Note: It’s now five years after this story began. I make sure I get my mammograms yearly and continue to shop for more artwork.