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Born With a Rusty Spoon: Episode 84

...Many wonderful things continue to encourage me to paint. I am always flattered when people enjoy my work and collect it for their pleasure or to hand down to their children. I am glad I can share my gift...

Bertie Stroup Marah concludes her wonderful autobiography.

When I started writing this memoir, all of my siblings were still alive. Unfortunately, Phyllis passed away on May 18, 2008. After a long struggle with multiple sclerosis and emphysema, she contracted MRSA, a deadly strep infection. She had been living alone in a small house on her son's property in Paonia, Colorado for the last five years of her life. I was by her side until about thirty minutes before she passed away. It broke my heart to say goodbye. After all, I was more than a sister to her. It was like losing one of my own children.

Jessie, who stood by his wife, Hope, in her battle against cancer died of a heart attack the day after Christmas on December 26, 2008.1 was grateful that I had the opportunity to read to him from my manuscript a few weeks before he passed away. He especially liked the parts where he was included in the story.

Willie still lives in Lovington, New Mexico with his wife, Dianne, and has been my greatest source of information and encouragement. His life work as a welder has resulted in him suffering from emphysema too. He makes beautiful fiddles and still enjoys playing music, and I, of course, still think he hung the moon.

Reita lives in Ft. Sumner, New Mexico with her husband, Don Wahe. She was County Clerk for ten years and is now employed with an agriultural institute in Clovis, New Mexico. We still enjoy a very close relationship.

Many wonderful things continue to encourage me to paint. I am always flattered when people enjoy my work and collect it for their pleasure or to hand down to their children. I am glad I can share my gift.

I find joy in painting all subject matter. To me, an elderly person's wrinkles, age spots, and sagging eyelids reveal a life filled with unique experiences. Understanding this makes me feel connected to them as I try to create a truthful image that I hope will be viewed as beautiful—warts and all. I try to capture what has taken years to produce. Sort of like painting a beautiful old tree with gnarls and knots. When painting a cottonwood tree, in particular, the tiny hanging-down white branches bring to mind the beard of an old man. I paint the tree with the same respect and pleasure that I paint an old person and think of how much time it takes to produce such aged beauty.

When I paint a child or baby, I especially love to paint their hands and feet. I can just imagine washing their tiny limbs and feeling how soft they are. It is a pleasure to reproduce on paper God's greatest creation. Painting their eyes is particularly engaging, because the whites are so clear and they have that sparkle of youth. Putting a rosy glow on their plump cheeks is like making a sick child well. My heart smiles all the while I am creating an image of them—I know that is so, because I can feel my chest expand.

When I paint water, I try to make the rocks look wet and try to imagine the sound of the water as it gurgles along. I make my brush strokes dance to the images of the noise of the rushing water. I move the brush in the same way the water swirls. Amazingly, the swirling motion works to make real looking water. The gift God gave me has enabled me to take that rusty spoon I was born with and replace it with a silver spoon of happiness, success and an appreciation for everything that has happened in my life.


To buy a copy of Bertie's wonderful book please visit

To see some of her pictures click on


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