By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter
Once in a while, someone comes along who is such an open, neutral space for others that they are able to recognize their own divinity and innate worth within the context of the relationship. Ann Wilson was just that sort of person.
She traveled a lot in her life, even teaching in Guam before coming to the Kenai Peninsula to teach art. She was born in Missouri and lived in numerous places in the U.S., as well as a period of time in England. Everywhere she journeyed, she touched people in very special ways. She put her heart into everything she did, and she was gracious and nurturing to all she met.
Ann taught art, and she lived it, as well. She encouraged creativity in others, whether they were students, co-workers or friends. She liked to set up situations for others to explore their own media and maybe discover some new ones along the way. When everyone else had gone home, she was still there, finishing up the project. She was able to move among many without judgment, and her motivation was always a deep consideration for others. When they found success, she rejoiced.
Ann’s chosen spiritual path, Eckankar, gave her considerable strength and perspective throughout the events of her life. Considered the religion of the light and sound of God, it gave her a paradigm of understanding that served her well. When she was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma, she did not feel sorry for herself or bitter about her circumstances.
Instead, she pushed on courageously, even moving and enrolling in a master’s of art therapy program in Portland, Ore. Before she died, she was granted the master’s degree, and was surrounded by her fellow students. They loved her, like so many of us on the peninsula do, and like so many others whose paths crossed hers in her wide-ranging travels.
Having spent most of her life helping others, Ann was able to define her own needs at the end of her life. As she set to the noble task of dropping the physical body, she was able to let folks know that she needed space to face her death on her own terms. There were great numbers of people affected by Ann, who wanted to come and express their love and support. But she chose to have just a few close caregivers attend to her in her final weeks, and they also helped everybody else by updating her Web page at Caringbridge.com.
Well-wishers were able to track her story with regular updates, as well as leave their own sentiments in her log book. These writings will be available at the celebration of her life planned from 4 to 8 p.m. this First Thursday at Art Works in Soldotna.
People like Ann Wilson are the gems of this world, and her leaving has created a void that can only be rightfully filled with our love for one another, and our divine impulse to create. If we can all honor her death and life with these defining actions, it could be a monumental “paying it forward” that could reverberate deep into time. I feel it’s what Annie would like to see us do.
Zirrus VanDevere is a local mixed-media artist and owns Art Works gallery in Soldotna. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.