Friday, January 16, 2009

profiles in ability: "Christina's World"

Artist Andrew Wyeth died today at age 91.

Christina Olson died at age 74 in 1968.

“Christina’s World” will live forever allowing all to touch the soul of those who face the poignant and heroic line between disability and ability.

“Christina”, Christina Olson was a real person. Born in 1893 she was challenged with an unknown progressing muscular deterioration from childhood. By age twenty-six, she could walk no more than three steps without grabbing an object, her hands were weakening, and she was experiencing exhaustion after ordinary tasks. Doctors were not able to diagnose her condition.

In 1948, Andrew Wyeth sketched Christina as she crawled down the hill to visit her parent's graves. Adding his talent as an artist and his wife Betsy as the model he painted “Christina’s World”.

To say the end result is riveting is understatement.

The thing is “Christina’s World” in one form or another is REAL for so many.

I am reminded of the first time our neighbor across the street stopped me to share that Patti had been pulling herself up our hill on our picket fence and crawling across the side yard to get into our home.

We lived in a Federalist Farm Home located on the high point of our property. You parked by the carriage house and walked up the hill to the house. Patti in the earliest years of Multiple Sclerosis fought, clawed, and crawled if necessary for the fight for independence.

Seeing the painting in the news so much today how can I not be reminded of the courage of so many Christina’s.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
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musings: Patrick Ponders ...


  1. wow, this was powerful to read Patrick; currently having everything I need to ambulate freely and live independently, I take it all for granted; it must be so hard to start losing those abilities and see the end coming where you can no longer take it for granted any more.....must be so devastating and hard to deal with; I'm sure you saw/see that continually with Patti

    I didn't know the story of Christina; thanks for sharing it with us

    stay warm......seems everyone is in a deep freeze......unless you are in Southern California.........


  2. I've always loved that painting. This is the first time I've heard the story behind it. Thank you, it has so much deeper meaning now.

    I think I knew from Patti's spirit, she would of fought as long as you could before admitting needing help. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. This was a beautiful post. Even though he was one of my favorite painters I did not know this story. Thanks for sharing the Wyeth story and another story of Patti's struggle to be independent.

  4. OMG I remember this. The painting, the story, everything! I was in Junior High and it was one of those things that made a lasting impression on me

    Thanks for posting this.


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