• Kathy Winkler Studio

A Brief Encounter with the Grim Reaper

The image of my most recent painting (below) is a long-time coming because of periods that were pre and post to my recent encounter with the Grim Reaper. I started planning two bison paintings in early November, but I began to loose my energy day-by-day. In fact, I felt I had turned into an empty shell, as I couldn’t stand in front of my easel and paint. The passion, the enthusiasm, the energy had “left the house.” All I could do was stare blankly at my easel, trying to gin up some energy and life, but to no avail. But, I was given a second chance as I discuss below.


On Thanksgiving Day of 2020, I got to see the other side, just a glimpse, but all the same, that was enough. I blacked out and collapsed, lost all motor control, as well as my “dinner”, and was soaked with cold sweats. When I came to, I realized I had not been out long, but I could not lift even a finger. I marveled at the fact that I could not will my fingers, arms, legs, or head to move. I tried to yell for Jerry for help, but I had no voice. I just laid there on the stairway wondering how to get up. I willed my arms to move, then concentrating on my legs, but nothing worked. I could not lift my head. I tried tapping on the wall, but my fingers would not work. I slowly struggled to make sense out of my predicament, concentrating on trying to crawl, but I could not do that.


For some reason, I did not panic. I just tried to figure something out and keep my mind working. So, I turned into a soldier crawling flat in slow motion on the floor like I was approaching a foxhole. I was definitely in survival mode. I finally made it to the bedroom, and got halfway onto the bed, but could not manage to get all of me onto the bed. About that time, Jerry just happened to come upstairs. I immediately told him to call 911, which was a bold move for me. I would rather jump off a cliff than to call 911 or have it called for me.


After an emergency trip to the hospital, and six days of testing, I was dismissed. This was difficult, as we had moved 45 miles away from my cardiologist and the hospital I would normally use. But, knowing that I would not survive another episode like the one I had, I called my cardiologist and found myself in familiar surroundings, getting a pacemaker the very next day. A lot happened in between with the “new” emergency cardiologists that I will never use again, but I won’t bore you with the details.


I believe life can be about second chances. My painting has a healing power of its own that enables me to pursue my passion. I am so blessed to be able to breathe life into my paintings and to give thanks each and every day, as I had prior to my recent near-death experience. I have always given thanks to my subject(s) and give thanks again once I finish painting them. Now, more than ever, I marvel at the fact that my paintings fall out of my fingers, and I know that I have been given new life.