The Poodle Flies Over the Courtyard

Created from pure joy and pure heartbreak in varying but overall equal measure, this mural was created for Children’s Medical Center in honor of my sister, Callie who fought cancer from the age of 11 to 16 with more joy than most people have in their day to day lives. She was “promoted to heaven” as the put it March 1, 2002, and if anyone on Earth could have saved her, it would have been the amazing staff at Children’s Medical Center. 

So, in 2011 when I was asked to create a mural that would fit with the “under the sea” theme of the floor and that “captured the spirit of Callie” to include in the infusion bay that bears her name, I did what any sane person would do. I accepted and said I was immensely honored, and then freaked out at the enormity of such a job and ran around and ate all the chocolate and hid in Netflix. “Capturing the spirit of Callie?” Really? I worried that it was an insurmountable task, for anyone, much less this still-grieving sister. 

As I prayed however, for clarity, for guidance, I realized that God had given me all the inspiration I needed in the memories of my wonderfully crazy sister who I watched handle her disease with grace, humor, and a little bit of a power trip. I remember that she once complained that people just burst into her room whenever they felt like it and it annoyed her. Being the helpful big sister I was, I told her she should put a password on the door, demanding people state it before being admitted. So simple, but 12 year old Callie was anything but simple. Ha, she took that suggestion and ran with it from her hospital bed. Next thing I knew, she was making new passwords for each morning and afternoon and denying entry to anyone who didn’t take the time to play her game. I was there when she ordered a poor resident back out into the hallway declaring, “Ask the nurses, THEY know everything.” 

Hahaha, and the passwords were never simple, they were complicated sentences. Which is why the two I remember the best became my inspiration for her mural. What encapsulates her spirit better than her own words? Which is why “The poodle flies over the courtyard at midnight,” with a touch of “the panther sleeps with one eye open” are represented in this mural, fused with the “under the sea” theme. 

Her mural became a living story in and of itself of Poodle Paratroopers skydiving in, becoming Poodlefish as they dropped into the water (because why not) and heading to their secret underwater meeting. 

I hope it sparks your imagination in the same way it fueled mine, because Callie was nothing if not a joyful instigator, and I think she’d like knowing she was sparking fun and mischief as part of her living legacy in this glassy world. 

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Anna Curnes