Eva is an artist who lives across the street from my brother in San Antonio, and on my last visit he said he wanted to introduce me to someone he thought I would enjoy meeting. He could not have been more right.
We walked across the street and knocked on the double doors and Eva was gracious enough to invite us into her lovely home. She has a presence about her that is palpable. A firm handshake, strong voice, and penetrating eyes that search the person she is speaking to. She is trim and tan. It is immediately apparent on meeting her that Eva is disciplined, intelligent and a creative powerhouse.
The home she lives in was built in the 1970's in a pretty neighborhood, but the outside does not give away what you are about to step into as you enter.
Walking into the home feels like walking into a different lifetime. A more sophisticated and refined lifetime, when quality, beauty and depth mattered more. Walking into the entrance feels like a combination of European art salon and Georgia O'Keefe's ranch. With beautiful rugs thrown on the Saltillo tile floor, a hearth, wooden beams and her framed artwork on every wall. Her home is filled with light, with simple sheer muslin curtains hung on every window, yet it has a very intimate, cozy feel .
It is very evident that every inch of the home and each item in it is cared for and loved and treated with respect. When I say that, I mean every nook and cranny looks like the set of a movie. or like it's set up for a still life- which we found out, was true. Her beautiful plain mahogany desk sitting in the light of the window with a feather crow quill is rendered in pencil and framed on her wall. Her intimate stone hearth complete with an ancient handmade broom, down-filled cushions and rug is also richly drawn and framed on the wall in her hallway.
I complemented her on how beautiful her home was after she gave us an initial tour. Her response was much like an Elder imparting wisdom to the next generation:
" I am an artist, and that is what artists do. They create beauty in the things that surround them."
Her yard is equally stunning. And I assumed she had hired someone to keep it at this level of perfection. No. I found out that Eva does all of the trimming, mowing, planting, pruning, weeding, watering. Eva does it all herself. In San Antonio summer heat. Probably because no one else could do it to her standards.
Eva is 96 years old.
Eva's story begins in Germany, in the late 1930's when she was an art student in college. The school she attended had a program where the students worked and volunteered in town during the school year as well as summers. Eva's jobs included secretarial and paralegal work in a law office, and in the summers she worked as farm hand on a local farm.
Eva became indispensable to the law offices, and they wanted to keep her on. However, in the 40's as the WWII ended, the town needed a mayor during the transitional years of the American occupation. Because she had been so active in the community, knew many influential people, and spoke English well, a 20 something year old Eva was asked to take the job. And she did, performing her mayoral duties and acting as translator, negotiator and communicator for the town to the American governor of the region. After two years, she met her husband, an American, and came overseas to begin a new life in the United States. She taught art at a university in San Antonio for several years as well as selling her own work around the country before retiring. Eva still draws and paints, although not daily as she used to.
You don't get the opportunity to meet the likes of Eva the artist, my brothers neighbor, every day. A remarkably talented, intelligent, strong and independent woman living fully and creating daily in her 9th decade of life. What a precious gift to cross paths with her.