The watercolor with its large, bulky frame hanging on my living room wall was my prized possession. Not that it was particularly good and not that I paid a lot for it, but it inspired almost every major decision I had ever made. It had the ability to draw me in and and seemed to extol wisdom from the very canvas.
Before I proposed to my wife, I spent hours on the couch in a nervous fit. It was the painting that got me to settle down and ask her. When I needed consolation when I lost my job, I found it in the dreary colors of that old European town. Even when I began drafting the plans for my dream home, how the painting would be lit by the sun was a major consideration.
Nobody else understood my obsession with it. My wife, parents, and children were baffled. But it was harmless and they accepted it as one of my quirks.
I used to dream that I was the artist in another life. It was the only explanation I could think of for my connection to it. At least this is how I explained it to my family and friends.
But when, for my birthday, my son decided to have my painting re-framed into something less absurd, I nearly had a heart attack. For the first time, the signature in the bottom corner became visible.
I wanted to feel revulsion, but instead I felt closer to it. I hated myself and my claims that I was the artist in another life, but the connection was still there. I ran my fingers over the bold black signature in the corner that read, ‘A Hitler.’