Saturday, February 12, 2011

Beautiful Wisdom - Carola L. Gough's Art and Legacy

"I always dreamed about making a grand entrance with the red carpet laid out for me, but I don't know about this grand exit!" quipped Carola Laurel Gough. As of that day, April 17, 2004, she had just turned 93-years-old and now a couple of paramedics were carrying her out of Chicago's Steak House (TODO check name) in Marietta, GA on a gurney, whisking her away to an ambulance. She had stumbled off of an elevated booth in the restaurant moments after refusing to wait for her son Gene, my grandfather, who insisted that he lend her a hand to help her down from the the six-inch rise. She lost her footing and came tumbling down to the ground, breaking her hip in the process, we soon discovered. She had managed to keep her self-effacing humor even in that moment of terrifying pain and uncertainty, and I will never forget the that, nor the lessons in self-determination during the three months that followed while she recovered to near perfect health again.

That spring and summer of 2004 she demonstrated to me and all observers the inconceivable joining of an absolutely iron will of personal independence with a tender and unblemished heart toward the respect for and well-being of others. As I later came to learn upon attending her memorial ceremony after her passing in July of 2007, three months after her 96th birthday, this was common for her. This was just the daughter, friend, mentor, spouse, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother that she always was. While her many personas will never be forgotten, there is yet another Carola that will forever be immortalized in the eyes and hearts of family, friends, and acquaintances: Artist.

Carola's artistic talent brought her much renown wherever she lived in the United States and also wherever she traveled abroad. Her art is the expression of a human spirit in love. It is the expression of a love for life and an advocacy for a peaceful, patient way of being so thorough that I feel forever indebted to her for sharing it with me, almost as if it were a personal gift. I also feel compelled, as her eldest great-grandchild, to tell her story and the powerful impact that her life, her example, and her art has had on me and others.

Words, of course, can only do so much, but pictures can tell a life story. This book showcases Carola's artwork and shares my own recollection and experience of spending time with her. Reflecting upon time spent with her taught me much. Those lessons I learned from her have radically improved the direction of my life. For example, seeing her chose to volunteer with children in her community after her husband Gene of 65 years passed away was a powerful example to me. This helped me to grow past personal selfishness to adopt an attitude of gratefulness and become a volunteer as well in my own community.

I sincerely hope that the images and narratives in this book will inspire and comfort Carola's many descendants and friends, and also that it serves to introduce her to those who never got a chance to know her. I also hope that it brings her art and her message of love to many new people around the world.

Below is but one of her paintings. You can find more linked from

Joshua Gough
Carola Laurel Gough's eldest great-grandson, age 31
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
January 26th, 2009


Two Years Later : Feb 12, 2011

It's been a long time since I wrote that, and we've completed a few things, regarding scanning journals and finishing scanning in very high resolution scans of Carola's paintings, plus a large collage print made and framed, thanks to Danny and our neighbor Frances, as well as my friend Erica.

So, while I've spent some money on having others do those things while I've been working my full-time job, I haven't sat down to start writing anything, but it's long overdue. I'm going to spend at least one to two hours a week on this in 2011, which is better than waiting for "a block of 100 hours" to suddenly show up at my door.

Book Goals

  • Commemorate Carola's life, paintings, and spirit
  • Communicate her impact on the lives of others, including me the primary editor
  • Invite other family members to write their own chapters or letters
  • Chronologically tell about different phases of her life
  • Conduct audio/video interviews from family here to shape a narrative to tell her story as best as possible for posterity
  • Highlight her charitable work
  • Showcase letters from Africa
  • And all the art, of course

Call For Assistance!

Family and friends, I'll need your help to fulfill those goals. So, I hope you'll be able to devote some time. The next order of business will be to start creating a outline of the work that needs to be done. I'll start creating that later this week. So, let me know if you'd like to help with a even as much as an hour or two a month this year.

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