We learned that Tracy died in May from an aggressive form of leukemia that racked her body in only five months. We had worked together at the Peace Corps for over four years, but that is only a tiny part of why knowing her was special.
We first met at the Corcoran Museum here in Washington, DC. while attending an evening tour and esoteric lecture about picture frames, learning how they can enhance and give meaning to the paintings they hold. As our small group wandered through the exhibition rooms with our guide, I noticed one participant, a woman with blonde hair and sweeping shawl, bright eyes and knowing smile, asked penetrating questions. Immediately, I knew I had to meet her as she sounded and looked like someone who knew about art in a way I did not. After the tour, we talked for several hours.
Tracy tole me about her passion for painting, showed me pictures of her commissions and latest work, and I told her about how I loved art, but sadly gave up making art because of my struggle with a mind and hands that do not cooperate to draw and paint. I marveled at her abstracts – the color, size, energy and strength of the work was breath taking. I felt her California roots coming through in her work.
By the end of the evening, she told me she was going back to work in communications and public relations as most artists, including herself, needed a day job to pay the bills. One idea led to another, so three months later she joined our Peace Corps team, decorating the area around our joint offices with three of her magnificent works. I immediately was drawn to one of them. The aqua blues and soft browns of its horizon soothed me in a way that no other painting had done before and I told her so.
Fast forward four years…To my surprise, when I retired two years ago, she gave me that work as a going away present. It was a deep act of kindness because I know how hard it is to give up a product of your creation. I am so lucky to have that painting so I can continue to feel her passion, witness her creativity and cherish friendship.
We were great buddies at work along with another colleague. You could sometimes find the three of us after work, nursing our woes, talking politics and cheering our successes, small and large, with a Manhattan (Tracy’s favorite libation), while munching a happy hour snack or two at Vidalia’s around the corner from work.
Like many an artist, Tracy was sensitive, a person who had flashes of sadness sometimes. But after meeting Jack through eHarmony, Tracy glowed and happiness overtook her. She had met the man who became the light of her life, soul mate and then husband – a fellow foodie, curious traveler and lover of beautiful things. She loved him so much that she married him, even though he kept a full size pool table in the living room. She knew he would let it go eventually, because she trusted, knew his goodness and believed his commitment. She was right — he let it go.
Tracy made us giggle and laugh many times. She turned that pool table into a sandbox for an Hawaiian party. She created tube people for her and Jack to carry at their wedding instead of flowers; and when she came to work now and then with her arm in a cast or leg in a brace from some freak accident, our friend dubbed Tracy ‘Miss Mayhem’. Tracy laughed and wore the name proudly.
Tracy was unique — she knew how to survive in a corporate environment without drowning her free spirit, her kindness, her creativity and passion for making art. We miss her.