Today’s entry is another very personal one: our daughter, Ingrid, is turning 8 years old. Earlier today, my dear wife snapped a photo of Ingrid, standing below a poster of the professional oarsman John Biglin. This is, indeed, very appropriate, as this image, painted by Thomas Eakins in 1873, probably is the first ‘image’ that Ingrid recognized as a young child.
At the two previous houses we lived in, from the time Ingrid was a baby to a 5-year-old girl, we had this poster hanging above the staircase between the first and second floor. Each morning, when I took her down to the kitchen for breakfast, we would pass the Eakins print. It became a ritual to say to Ingrid every morning: ‘Ingrid. Say good morning, John Biglin!’ And sometimes, she did.
Then in 2005, when I was sitting on the sofa in the living room, admiring an article that I just had managed to get published in a magazine – an article about the American sculler Charles Courtney and the decline of professional sculling in the U.S. – Ingrid came climbing up on the sofa and onto my lap, asking: ‘What are you doing, Papa?’ I answered as off-handedly as I could: ‘Oh, it is just a little article I got published, and…’ when Ingrid suddenly interrupted me, screaming for joy, ‘Look, look, Papa, there is a picture of John Biglin!’ And right she was, that cute girl. There was an illustration of John Biglin, not the one in oil, but one of the water-coloured ones Eakins painted of his friend. She made her father very proud.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY – sweet girl!