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A Painting Worth a Thousand Words

The true tale of a dog, a determined painter and a cherished picture from Council on Aging Director Mary Ann Sullivan.

 In 2004, our good friend Viola Massenzio, was a student in Jim Hooley’s painting class. It so happened that one morning my daughter was walking by the with her boxer, Tyson.  She stopped in and Viola was so taken by the dog that she asked Laurie if she could do a portrait of Tyson. 

Now, this was 2004 and Viola was 87 and Tyson was 4 years old. Laurie gave Viola many pictures of Tyson and she would spend each class penciling his likeness on a canvas until she got it just right.  The class would laugh about how many times she used her eraser.

Each week she would show me her progress and she always said, “I will be so happy when I finish this painting.”

Years passed and Jim stopped teaching his class here at the COA, but Viola continued on with her quest to finish the portrait.  Sadly, our Tyson passed in 2007 but I didn’t have the heart to tell Viola. She would come to the Senior Center for other activities and always take the time to update me on the picture. 

Last week, she came in with the finished product!

It took her 8 years, but she never gave up.  On Wednesday, she asked me to have my daughter Laurie come to the Senior Center and she presented her with the beautifully framed picture of Tyson. 

She glowed with satisfaction on her accomplishment. She showed the picture to her bridge friends and they all gave her a big round of applause. Needless to say, those of us who loved Tyson will always be grateful for this beautiful reminder of a very special dog and friend. 

So thank you Viola for never giving up and I know up in dog heaven, Tyson is smiling down on you as well.

 -Mary Ann Sullivan

Mary Ann Sullivan May 04, 2012 at 12:23 PM
We could all take a lesson from Viola's determination. Just one of the many seniors who inspire me every day. Thanks for running the story ....she will be thrilled!!! Mary Ann Sullivan

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