We had several art shows of his work. The above photo is from last August, when we had a unique exhibit. People emailed a copy of one of Phil's pieces. I blew it up and displayed on the walls. Each contributor also wrote about where they displayed the piece, what it meant to them, and it's reach. Some had taken the art pieces on tour in Venezuela, Cuba, and Mexico. Others had shared it in community spaces throughout the US. The reach was profound.
Folks came in off the street and learned more about Phil. They learned that despite being incarcerated for the last 35 years of his life that he never stopped living. He never let his circumstances limit him. He stayed close to his wife. He developed friendships with people like me. He inspired and connected with numerous people all over the globe. He kept us close to him and we cherished the link.
One time, I saw a bear while I drove up to visit him. When I was going through a particularly rough patch, Phil drew a card (that I later framed. It's still on my living room wall) that he and his brother, Del, signed. They said, "Your Grizzlies have got you." And they are my grizzlies. They're warm, fierce, grizzled men. They taught me that there are beautiful men out there that I can cherish, trust, and grow with.
In Phil's honor, Kevin and I had grizzlies tattooed on our arms.
Before Thanksgiving, our beloved, nearly 20-year-old cat, Laz passed. I knew it was coming and wrote Phil before hand. He replied to me, "Don't dwell over it. When it happens, it'll happen, and you'll just have to be ready to be strong and deal with it. Don't get your mind set to fall apart. Be prepared to deal with reality. I'm not trying to tell you it's going to be easy, just that it's going to be and not to plan on falling apart. Just know you get to be strong and keep on moving. With you, all I see is you still hold onto things that happen to you, which is not good. It will make you feel like things are piling up on you, when what is really happening is that you're not letting things to go like you should. You've got to deal with stuff and then move on by letting the past go. The India trip will keep you motivated and take some pressure off you. Being happy