Essay by Jennifer Rooker - submitted as part of application to The College of William and Mary

The particular piece of art that has inspired my life is a painting done by my little brother over two years ago. His painting stands out in my mind when I consider the essay question. It not only has inspired me, but it has touched many, many others as well.

I remember him working on the painting. Jason and I took art lessons together in our home two years ago. He worked very slowly, but intently. He was very meticulous when he painted and put much thought and effort into his work.

At the age of ten, this painting was the last one he completed out of a total of three, before he had an accident which left him profoundly brain damaged. He used the image of the mountains from where we live and two butterflies that we had in a glass case on the shelf. He painted with oils, with various shades of blue in the mountains, one yellow butterfly and one brown butterfly. It was an impressive work, for such a young boy.

It was this picture that my parents had screenprinted on the T-shirts that we gave to the volunteers who helped with Jason's therapy. His therapy was called "patterning" and it took about an hour and a half, three times a day, seven days a week. Five people were needed each time to move his limbs in a crawling motion. For more than four months we "patterned" every day, until Jason passed away in his sleep on September 4th.

More than 100 people came to help pattern Jason. Close friends, acquaintances, and total strangers came to help. It is hard to believe that one little boy could bring so many people in a community together, or that so many people had enough room in their hearts to make room in their schedules to help us.

Perhaps Jason's purpose in life was to bring those people together. When he finished what he was supposed to do he left us to keep working toward our purposes, whatever they are. All those volunteers will wear his painting and think of him. I see it and think of all Jason went through, and all we went through, and how the colors of the picture on the shirt aren't quite the same as those of the original painting.

Jason inspired many people who will hopefully continue to help others like they helped him. His painting on their shirts will remind them of him. I hope it inspires them.

It inspires me to keep on going and living; to remember that I have a whole life in front of me and to enjoy and cherish it, but to know that nothing in life is ever certain. The painting is just a memory and a reminder of Jason. It wasn't so much the painting that was inspirational, but the painter. I miss him.


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