The story starts about one year ago.
Colleen and I were sitting having our morning tea and chatting about anything and everything the way we do every morning just before heading off to work. We call it our golden time.
Colleen mentioned that morning that as of March 2012, John Belushi would have been gone for 30 years and that it would be a wonderful thing if I was to paint a project that could be dedicated to his short but incredible life. I must say, I was shocked with the amount of time that has so quickly fled since we lost him and his wonderful talent.
It took only a second or two and we made the decision to invest the time, effort and capital into going forward with the project. We also agreed that I should contact Judy Belushi, John’s widow, and offer her the opportunity to join in and work with us, for the second time, on this heartfelt project.
I got hold of Judy and she loved the idea of the dedication piece. She chuckled out loud when I told her my Last Supper concept and again even harder when I mentioned my chosen title “The Twelve Decibels”. She exclaimed that John would have loved everything about the project. We then mutually agreed to have proceeds from the prints go toward art projects for children in the American deep-south. Ones that Judy and Dan Aykroyd have helped over many years. We also agreed that some of the funds could go to the World Charity Art Foundation.org a nonprofit organization that Colleen and I have founded in the State of New York.
Jump to November 2012.
The painting “The Twelve Decibels” and the prints are finished. I called Judy to arrange a convenient time and place for the signing of the prints. She thought for a moment and said we could either meet up in Manhattan or we could get together at her place on Martha’s Vineyard sometime during the Christmas/ New Year week. Um, let’s see … decisions, decisions … duh? Of course the opportunity to go somewhere I’ve never been before mixed in with a stay-over at the home of a very famous comedian’s wife, who is also a number one selling author, was the only way to go!
To keep it short we ended up on the Island on Christmas Eve and stayed at a beautiful Gatsby style ocean front inn rightly called the Ocean View.
Knowing that Judy would have family and close friends over for Christmas we didn’t let her know that we were actually on the Island until the day after Christmas. Instead, on Christmas day we drove all over the place which gave Colleen a chance to capture some fantastic photos. I can’t describe the feeling of age and history around every turn we took. It was like you were back 100 years in time. We returned to the inn fairly early and sat down to a pretty decent Christmas buffet for just over $300 (never thought to ask “how much” in advance). But I must say it was a heck of a lot better than that Christmas Day, Chinese meal we experienced in Naples a few years back. And no, I didn’t get a Red Rider BB gun that year.
Stepping back a few hours that day, Colleen had a surprise route for me which led us directly to the graveyard where John Belushi was buried and remains today.
The moment we pulled in the entrance we saw a large naturally smoothed boulder with only the name BELUSHI carved into its face. The day was beautiful, absolutely calm, 47 F, sunny and there wasn’t a sound to be heard. The gentle fresh smell of the nearby ocean offered up a sent of soft faint incense.
It was then that Colleen told me, everything she had read mentioned that because of the high volume of visitors to John’s grave, his remains were moved elsewhere in the cemetery. Someone had even written that they had found a small stone way off near the back that had the initials “JB” on it.
But here we were standing inside of a small pine covered area that was surrounded by a quaint split rail fence and had the large boulder at one end and a more conventional headstone at the other end. Life felt wonderful at that moment and we both agreed that we weren’t there for anything other than to offer our respects. Strangely enough it felt like the perfect place to be on Christmas Day.
People had been laying pebbles around the headstone, some with little sayings like “cheeseburger, cheeseburger” and “But Nooooo!” So we too, found the nicest nearby stone and placed it with the others, Colleen’s of course was left on top of the headstone.
Just a pleasant little story to add to the many that my wife and I have experienced because of my very unique career path … but noooooo! There’s just one more thing … a little piece of treasure that you may find interesting.
The next day as we sat around with Judy at the Belushi home, we had mentioned that we were out to see the place where John was buried. We also mentioned to her that we knew his remains had been moved, yet we were still glad that we went. With a puzzled expression, she said, “So many people get the story all wrong. His grave had originally been among the other graves and people were damaging them by walking all over them. So John, was moved away from the others to the place with the quaint split rail fence and the headstone we were at was in fact where he remains today.”
It seems strange that something as simple as visiting his grave and saying a few words to someone who will never know me, felt like a subtle yet beautiful bookmark in my life. I like that.
Written by Ron Suchiu
Photo by Colleen Suchiu