“WHEN SONNY CAME HOME” A project so dear to me for so many reasons, “When Sonny Came Home” was a commissioned piece requested of me prior to Christmas by Brenda Daubenmire.

DAUBENMIRES AND HOW I KNEW THEM: My first family home was in Hebron, Ohio. We lived two doors down from the Daubenmire family. Pearl and Frank Daubenmire had five kids who constantly delivered miles of fun and entertainment within our childhood neighborhood. My little brother spent so many summer days adventuring with Bill Daubenmire, their youngest son. We lived our own version of the “Wonder Years”. Time went by. Everybody grew up. Everybody scattered.

DAUBENMIRE REUNION: A couple of years ago, much to my delighted surprise, I saw Bill Daubenmire standing in the yard next door to me on West Bank. He told me that he and his wife, Brenda, were renting the house next door to me while they built a home near Dawes Woods. WOW. Full Circle. Bill was my neighbor again! I LOVED having grown up Bill living next door as much as I loved having childhood Bill living next door back in the day. Really cool bonus, I got to meet and know Bill’s wife, Brenda. We had great talks and shared a love of the green thumb. The house they were renting was the former house of my beloved neighbor Pat Dodson. Also, grand queen of green thumbery. I felt like she had sent me some new and familiar friends. Bill and Brenda have since moved to their dream home. I miss them every day.

THE ASSIGNMENT: One day Brenda messaged me and said that she wanted me to do a painting of all the family Yorkies. Sonny, Shorty, Leo and Alfie. All these pups are distributed amongst Bill, Brenda and their daughters. I asked her for pics and over the next few weeks she collected a series of pics from all over the place. By all over the place I mean one was even taken on a subway in New York City when Brenda was on her way to Italy! When she first sent them, I had a terrible time figuring out which pup was who. By the end of the painting, I was an expert.

TRAGIC SNAG: SOoooo, after getting the pics, laying them out and making a game plan, I was ready to start. Sadly, at the same time I was ready to commence, Brenda sent me a message and said to hold off. Sonny (one of the 4) had vanished into thin air. Bill and Brenda now live by a heavily wooded area. She said Sonny was out in the yard and suddenly Sonny was gone. Suffice to say, the family was devastated. I was too. The thought of that tiny little being out there alone close to coyotes, eagles and potentially evil humans was heartbreaking to me. It was also quite cold at that time. Sonny isn’t fat enough to stay warm! I was sick for them.

CHILD LIKE FAITH: I’ve gotten rusty at child like faith. You don’t necessarily think a simple prayer about a little pup will get answered because you (as an adult) fear the worst. You figure God is busy enough dealing with one constant catastrophe after another. How could HE possibly be bothered. I remember thinking…what can I do for them? I felt helpless. I did a lot of shares on Face Book. I answered people’s comments who were asking for more details. Short of that, I was not sure what else to do. So….I took Sonny’s little picture and laid it on my desk. Everyday I put my hand on it and reacquainted myself with child like faith. The kind you would put into action if you WERE a child and lost your beloved pet. I remember praying that I knew it was a big time long shot, but could we please get this little doggie home safely. Protect this creature of innocence. It’s was almost Christmas for heaven’s sake. We really did need a Christmas miracle. Admittedly, even with the prayers, chances were slim.

MIRACLES DO COME ALONG SOMETIMES: Approximately a week later, I got a message from Brenda. “You’d better get paintin’ girl!” Through the exposure of numerous Facebook shares amongst their many, many friends, someone had spotted Sonny and Sonny did INDEED come home. Little tiny Sonny had miraculously survived several days out in the cold, the elements, and potential predators. Unbelievable. Brenda and Bill came by my little gallery prior to Christmas to retrieve the painting and a print for each of their daughters just in time for the holiday. They, as always, filled my ears with words of encouragement. Bill and Brenda are always so good at that. It was so awesome to see them again and share in a happy ending. PROJECT SUMMARY: “When Sonny Came Home” is an 11 x 14 watercolor painting on a canvas panel. Finding the personalities of each subject in the photos provided is still the strongest guiding force for me. Sounds crazy, but each one of them seems to be saying something. All God’s creatures have a place in the choir. Some sing low, some sing higher. Those lyrics apply here. I will never forget this project and when I pass by the print of of it that is in my home, I am reminded of the reintroduction of child like faith into my life. After all. It never hurts to ask, does it?

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