He was a preacher most of his life and he taught me that Christians can have a sense of humor about their own religion. He was devoted to community and inclusiveness and care for people on the fringes. He was the minister a mixed-race couple could go to when they wanted to get married and he always made a safe places for teens to hang out and be their weirdo teen selves.
He was a musician and loved to sing. He happened to be born on the same day as Elvis Presley. He claimed they were switched at birth and that he was supposed to be the rock and roll star while Elvis should have been the preacher.
He was an artist and my earliest memories of him are flashes of stained fingers and the smell of turpentine and linseed oil. He loved to paint, which was interesting because he was colorblind. He did pretty well unless he got his palette turned around and then his paintings took on a surreal tone. Every now and again he would ask me to help sort out his colors.
Born in the mountains of North Carolina, he always felt at home there, but as my great-grandmother often said, "Your daddy was born with a flea on his foot, and so it's hard for him to settle down." We moved once a year for much of my childhood and when he finally settled, it was with a different family in different mountains. I'm glad he found peace and happiness there.
|Hugh as a young boy|
|He loved to dress up. Halloween was a favorite,|
but he was nuts for the Civil War era.
|"Farm at Wright State" 1970|
Dad managed to hang on to my Great-great Grandfather's fiddle. My brother Lon rescued it from storage, had it refurbished, and gave it to me as a birthday present. In this video my husband Bill Quern plays "Sandy Boys" on Granddaddy's Fiddle, keeping the family tradition alive and well.
I went to see Dad before he passed. I got to say to him, "Rest easy, Dad. You are loved," and touch his hand one more time.
A few days later, at the moment of his passing over, this butterfly came to my garden and hung around long enough to bring me a message, "Don't worry, I'm OK. You are loved."
I'm pretty sure he gets to see all the colors, now.
For my dad
Lon Hugh Gowan
Jan 8, 1935 - Oct 15, 2017