I will never become a professional tennis player. Sad, but true. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to play, enjoy it and hopefully excell. I keep going back day after day.
This weekend I was inside a clubhouse waiting for a match to start. I noticed an elderly gentleman who was sitting at a table close by. A young man brought him two strong “nutties”. What? Some sort of a slushy drink. Soon a younger gentleman joined him. Players were coming off the courts and others were, like me, waiting to play. Several people went over and greeted this gentleman and talked a few minutes. He would ask them if they had looked at his exhibit he had put up. I glanced over and saw four medium sized paintings of tennis players, a sculpture, a book and a piece of paper you could sign. I thought maybe he was auctioning some work off for a fundraiser. I waited awhile and then strolled up to the desk, passing the display. After asking my question I casually went over and looked at his work. Very, very impressive. For whatever reason I decide to walk over and introduce myself. His name is Jay o’Meilia. I compliment his work and ask if he mainly paints sport themes. No, no he replies. “I am a jack of all trades”. He tells me to look at his book. The younger gentleman brings it to me. It turns out that he is the author. I open the book and there they were, The Five Indian Princesses. OMG! I looked at Mr. O’Meilia and asked if this was his work and he said oh yea! This piece of work is a bigger than life sculpture of five Native American Prima Ballerinas from Oklahoma. This sculpture was made for Oklahoma’s 75th year celebration of statehood. The ballerinas are Yvonne Chouteau, Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin, and Maria and Marjorie Tallchief. They were leading dancers in the 1940’s with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and Grand Ballet de Marquis de Cuevas. Each went on to teach and start ballet companies in Dallas, Chicago, Tulsa and Oklahoma City. I talked with Mr. O’Meilia about my two girls having trained under Mrs. Larkin and being one of her last groups of students before she got ill. He told me about having to meet her at midnight to get final approval for the shape of her ballet slippers the night before the casting was done! We talked about his other works and shows at the Gilcrease, Smithsonian and his two year project that is a monument to soldiers and sits in front of the capital. I opened another page and it was a painting of a little girl. I asked who she was and he said it is his daughter that he lost to brain cancer. He talked about her and how she was a true “horse whisperer”. She worked with Arabian horses and truly talked with them. He said he did commission work and got creative when someone wrote the check! He looked at me and said, “I have been loaned a gift”. I said, yes you have! I then told him I was going to sign up to purchase his book and he thanked me.
I went on to talk with my other teammates and a few minutes later Mr. O’Meilia called me over. Would you like me to sign your book to you he asked? I would be honored Mr. O’Meilia, thank you!
The older I get the more I realize the old saying “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover”, is so true. On this quest to discover my true gifts I will not forget to slow down and talk to people and learn about the gifts they have been loaned. You are truly doing amazing things!