TAMMY’S DAUGHTER’S IN HAND
Oil on canvas 30 x 40 inches by June Pauline Zent
This is an old photograph that I had taken and someone spilled liquid on. I did my best to clean it up in Photoshop but the colors and details are so altered there wasn’t a lot that I could do to restore it. I thought that you might like to see it anyway.
Time moved like an endless summer while I finished Tammy’s commissioned portrait and tried to keep thoughts about Buddy from taking over and affecting my focus. I wanted this canvas to be sunny and happy; one that Tammy would view daily with a feeling of pride that matched her devotion as a mother. From the top left to the right: Gwen, Jackie, then Tina, and Tammila Georgette. Tammy’s hands are holding the bouquet.
Gwen had her mom’s calm determined steadfastness while Jackie was shy with all of her mother’s sweetness and vulnerability. Tammy said more than once that Tina was the most like her and that’s why they locked horns so often. Tina also played the guitar and was a tiny bit mischievous, a trait that I saw in Tammy when she shared stories about her life. George Jones adopted the three older girls but Georgette, as she was called was his natural daughter with Tammy. She was a little extroverted attention loving bomb who loved to show me her latest acrobatic moves while I photographed her. I say was because I have not seen these girls in many years. I do hope that they are all well and happy. Of course you know that Tammy died and I still have an unfinished portrait of her that I cannot bring myself to complete.
In those days I actually used film in the camara and must have used five 36 frame roles during several visits. I talked with them while filming aiming to bring out their personalities. It took time but eventually they relaxed and showed me who they were.
Tammy wanted me to have it framed before she viewed it so I took the piece to a local framer. After hearing who the subjects were he wanted to place it in the display window for a week. Flattered, I agreed. The road by the shop was separated by a railroad track running parallel with a second road on the other side. It must have been at least 300 feet away when viewed from the second road but I could see it clearly from there. The work was huge with four full size portraits, hands and flowers. Little did I know that Tammy had also driven down that road and seen it too. she said later that it looked very familiar but she didn’t make the connection until I brought it to her.
“Oh my goodness June, it’s wonderful!” reaching out her arms for it.” I saw it , I saw it in the framers window and it has been on my mind since then; now I know why”. I believe one of her girls has it now or it might be in the Wynette museum in Nashville. When she was alive I made several trips to her Nashville home to bring commissioned artwork. She was always gracious and appreciative. Whenever I would call from Jupiter or before delivering a piece a thick Southern accented voice would answer. “who is this” I would say and hear, “Coookey” It never failed to crack me up. Of course she meant Cookie, she was the cook. On one visit Tammy took me to a room that she called The Zent Room. On the walls were all of the prints beautifully framed that I had given her and several commissioned originals not hanging in other areas of the home. It took my breath away!
She said ” Come on, lets talk” and the first question was had I heard from Buddy. I knew that we shared that love in common but I suspected that he was treating her like he did yours truly. She believed the rumors about him and Sally Fields were true but said, ” June, she’s too young for him”. I didn’t speak but thought, ” Maybe, but she has more fame and money: good for his career”. We gossiped about each others lives, exchanged stories, laughed a lot, and had a good time. Not once did she mention The Mike Douglas show and her part in it. I kept silent because I wasn’t sure about the reason or even if she had been told the real reason. I believe that the truth would come out in time. I told her about the house that I was negotiating to buy and she described more artwork that she wanted to commission. My sense of her was that she was a true , sincere friend who valued the artwork as much as she valued our friendship. Besides we had great fun together and we both needed that in our lives.
Learn how the truth does come out in the next continuing twelve where I hope to see you here!