by Megan Durocher

We all have someone who inspires us. For me, that was my stepfather, Dennis. While he was on hospice, I took care of him. During this time, he told me that I needed to do something for myself as well. I tried to think of things that I could pursue and find time for while still being present with him, and able to care for him as the priority. I needed to keep my mind free of the sad thoughts that would often come into my mind during these months. I took his advice, and found the perfect hobby to help.

I went back to sculpting with polymer clay. It had been years since I had played around with Sculpey as a little girl. I started back up, and I became very focused on my creativity. I was surprised how calming and relaxing sculpting was! It didn’t take any effort for me to begin developing a style of my own.

The most rewarding part of making this art was showing my sculptures to Dennis. His excitement and his smiles made me realize that my art was making him happy. It was another gift I could give to him, and I realized that his encouragement of my art was a gift he gave to me. To encourage me and show his support, he commissioned a cabinet with glass doors to be made for my sculptures. It is one of my most cherished possessions now.

Taking care of him, creating sculptures – these were the most important things I could do during his time on hospice. Dennis believed in me since he met me as a child, and here he was, still believing in me. He would watch his shows like The Love Boat every day, and I would be set up with a little table next to him, working on my sculptures while singing along to that theme song!

Making art helped me to take care of myself, which helped me to take care of him. I remember making clay monsters and funky-colored giraffes as the very first sculptures I tried creating that Spring. Toward the end, I wasn’t working on my clay as much because he had a much higher need of care. But those months of hospice when my art played a role in some happiness still provide me with good memories of a sad time.

Some time after he passed away, I made a memorial sculpture of him holding some of his favorite engineering tools: a ruler and a notebook! If it weren’t for Dennis’ encouragement, I would not have thought to sculpt. When he was gone, I had to remind myself that he was proud of me, and would want me to continue pursuing my art. I now create sculptures all the time, and am happy to let my creative mind be free and happy!