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A Goddess in Pain

A Goddess in Pain

“Good afternoon, Mr and Mrs Kane, we are completing the final checks and will be taxing for take- off to Palma de Mallorca shortly. As always, if there is anything we can do for you; please do not hesitate to ask… If you will excuse me.”

Almost word for word the same conversation for the thousandth time, but just a different part of the world. Yes, it is their job to treat me with such respect and esteem, but when it was it’s my money paying for such a service, it loses its charm.

Slumping into my seat, I took in a deep breath, letting out a heavy sigh. It would be about 10 hours in the air from New York to Palma, time I knew that could have been spent wisely clocking into meetings, listening to my team drone on about plans for the next quarter, and investor benefits, but all I wanted to do was sit back, close my eyes let the dazzling light of the Palma sun wake me from my slumber. There was only one thing on my mind.

It only felt like a matter of minutes before I heard the sound of the captain’s voice over the speaker, “This is your captain speaking…” I tended to drift in and out of what the captain would say, he is the one flying the jet, I’m happy for him to just get on with it.

“We will shortly begin our decent…”

I looked over to my wife where she had not noticed I was now backing in the world of the living. An empty bottle of champagne sat beside her, her glass with only the remaining little drops. She was staring intently at a screen, reading the profile of a woman; the whole reason we had chartered this flight to Palma in the first place – Marie Rossi. It was my wife that had shown me her work originally, and from the moment I set my eyes on that first portrait, I knew we had to meet her.

Within the hour we had landed, been driven the short distance to our 5* hotel to freshen up, and were heading back down to the limousine to the restaurant where we would be meeting Marie for the first time.

Amanda reached out and held my hand in the car, she was excited and I knew instantly that she could feel the nervousness in me. It surprised us both. In my line of work there is no time to second guess or be intimidated but this was something new, even to me. Amanda had contacted Marie and had invited her for dinner. The Kane name has always been known for our charitable work but this was something personal, this was our opportunity to help someone we could really connect with, Marie’s portfolio had taken my breath away. I felt like a school boy again, giddy with excitement.

We were led past the other tables to a private area that had been arranged for us, and there waiting was Marie looking apprehensive, “Signore Kane, thank you for…”

“Please, Marie, the pleasure is ours.”

We sat for hours, wining and dining Marie, something she was obviously not used to; finding out everything there was to know about her. Her childhood in Rome, her family and the struggles that they all faced. It was a story like nothing I had ever heard before. People talk about being from the other side of the tracks, but Marie’s story was something else,

“We had nothing, but we did not want for anything. Yes, we were surrounded by crime and poverty but we had everything we could have needed, or wanted, family” She paused,

“Until my mother died.”

At that moment the waitress began to refill our glasses and take away the empty bottle of champagne. Once she had left the table, I asked Marie to continue.

I could not take my eyes of her, I was entranced. With every story she told, I found myself more and more astonished at how she had come to be the polite, well-mannered young woman that sat before us. While the waitress cleared the table before the final course, I could not wait any longer to ask the question that had been lingering on the tip of my tongue for the whole meal, “Marie, I must know… The subject of your portrait ‘A Goddess in pain’, who is that woman?” Even if deep down, I already knew the answer.

“She is my mother” She replied softly. She seemed to be taken aback by the question. Perhaps she was not expecting it.

“It was that piece that made me come here today” I continued, leaning in towards her.

“You flew all of this way, because of that?” The modesty in her voice spoke volumes to me. I have stood listening to artists with not even half of her talent waffle on at their self-promoting and pompous galas about their own, rather frankly hideous paintings and trying to justify the outrageous price tag; but here, sat in front of me, a young woman, bursting with talent and integrity, from a world I could not even begin to understand, surprised at how powerful her work could be.

“It is not the woman in the painting that spoke to me” I said, knowing full well that if I continued with what I had to say, the tears would likely begin to well up. “It is the passion, the pain that I see in her face, in her eyes. You have talked about the hardships that you faced as a child, but also the joy that you shared with your brothers and your sisters. Your drive and persistence to do what you loved, to paint. Before I had created a story in my mind about this woman, the life that she had lived, but now I know the truth, I can see that she really was a Goddess.”

“She was, and always will be my Goddess.”

The next day, were driven to a run-down part of Palma, a part we were warned not to travel alone, but nothing would stop us. With Amanda held firmly in one hand, I knocked an old wooden door, paint chipped with rusty hinges barely hanging on, but that meant nothing to Marie. It was inside that mattered.

“Signore, Senorta, welcome to my studio. My world.”

Nothing in Marie’s studio was for show. There was no false advertising, nothing placed there for our benefit, only what was necessary, her paints, her canvas’. It really was her world.

I don’t know how long we spent wandering through that amazing space, I barely even noticed the sweltering heat that surrounded us, that must be a burden to her every single day, but to her this was her haven where she could come and express herself, and with my help, it would not only be those that knew Marie personally that would be able to enjoy all she had to offer.

It was a month ago that Amanda and I travelled to Palma to meet Marie Rossi, and since that day not only her life, but mine, has not been the same. Arriving home, I contacted a colleague in the art distribution business and told him all about Marie. I could see on his face how stunned at my passion for an artist I had only just met, but he knew that if I was prepared to invest in her in that way, she must be worth it.

Tonight, Amanda and I will be attending Marie’s first gala in New York city. I know how overwhelming it must be for her, but what good can come from this, not only for her but her entire family. She told me this morning that her mother would be forever thankful to us for what we have done for her, but as I stand here now in my living room, tying my tie, looking into her mother’s eyes on the wall, I know her Goddess would be looking down on her with nothing but pride.