CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — “I think back on the day before, and the week before, and the month before and kind of playback memories in my head.”
The start of any day can stir up all kinds of emotions. But once she smells the oil paint and touches the canvas, Marcy Gregg has the same feeling every single day.
“I feel joy. I love it,” said Marcy.
She wasn’t always an artist. At 47, she decided she needed a career change.
“I told my husband, I had this burning desire to paint. He said, ‘Well paint!’ I don’t know how. He said ‘You majored in Art at SMU’ and I don’t remember,” said Marcy.
“You never – never forget a phone call like that,” remembered Dev Gregg.
Before we get to that phone call, there’s an important layer to this story. It’s the first time 17-year-old Marcy met 19-year-old Dev.
“I can tell you exactly the shirt she was wearing, exactly how her hair was cut. Which is a big deal for me because I can’t remember things like that anymore,” laughed Dev.
The college sweethearts quickly fell in love. A few years later, they got married.
“I hate to say it, but it was love at sight, it really really was,” said Dev.
In 1990, Marcy had just given birth to their third child – a baby girl – when that phone call came.
“It was… scary is not an adequate word,” said Dev.
While giving birth, bacteria had gotten into Marcy’s brain. She fell into a coma for about a week and when she woke up, she had no idea where she was or who she was.
“I thought I was 17 when I woke up and I was really 30,” said Marcy.
No memory of her kids, her career, her life. 13 years…wiped away.
“I remember – I do. I’m so thankful I do,” said Marcy.
But there was one moment she remembered. When her 17-year-old self met Dev.
“I think those feelings of love and what we shared. That transcended her illness,” said Dev.
Those 13 years are still a mystery to Marcy. But pieces of her have found their way back, like the love of her life and her passion for painting, and the Texas boy she fell in love with at 17.
“That’s when I felt the muscle memory come back and whatever I was doing,” remembered Marcy.
Underneath every painting is a bible verse. Her faith has always been her foundation and it’s one she’s relying on more lately.
“I’ve had several surgeries on my hands – and it’s very painful to paint,” said Marcy.
In 2017, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. There are days when it’s too hard to pick up a brush.
“It is. It’s worth painting,” smiled Marcy.
Marcy spent months working on a few dozen paintings that will be part of her solo exhibit at the Anne Neilson Gallery on October 12 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. She doesn’t know if there will be more exhibits in the future, but she’s celebrating what she has at this moment.
For now, it’s one more day to love, to paint, and to remember.