Steve and I moved to Columbia in January 1987. We met people quickly, especially as our custom picture framing business started to grow. Toni M. Elkins was one of the first artists we came to know. She encouraged me to "be creative" long before I actually considered this advice! She's been supportive ever since I started turning stitches into fiber art. Our relationship mostly centered on the arts community. I really didn't know much about her family.... just tidbits over the years, a casual mention of a daughter's wedding or the fact that her house (like ours) caught fire. (Hers sadly burnt down; ours was miraculously salvaged.)
While I snapped her photo and she signed the model's release, we talked about the difficult time she endured. She prayed for a miracle. She prayed to be spared from this decision. She came to grips with the necessary paperwork.... her signature that allowed life support to cease. Reluctantly she signed; she mourns; she knows she did the "right" thing for her beloved mother; and her heart beats for all those who face the same decision.
Toni said of the portrait, "Thanks for giving me closure on this whole emotional thing".
For my “Last Words” installation (an entirely different series of work), I collected artificial flowers from cemetery dumpsters, carefully removing the fabric petals and washing them. Each flower represents someone’s respect and loving remembrance. They were the perfect way to adorn Toni’s decision.