Flying painting by Carly Monardo

Flying painting by Carly Monardo

You know those days that come around every so often that plant flags in your life and scream, “You’ve come this far, there’s no turning back now!”? Some call them milestones; others, churlish reminders of mortality. I just use the colloquial “birthday.”

Well, I had one. And my wife surprised me with this lovely painting she’d (secretly) commissioned from our friend Carly Monardo. (Click the image above for a closer look.)

The painting is of me and my dad. Anyone’s who’s read my “One More Chance” essay may have an inkling of what this means to me.

It’s hanging framed in my office right now, and every glance at it hits me with a miniature poke in the soft tissues. It’s amazing what one work can simultaneously symbolize:

My relationship with my dad, whom I love and miss terribly;
My wife’s cleverness and thoughtfulness;
My friend’s artistic talent and in a broader sense, the friendships I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had in this exceptional career;
And even the idea of synthesis in general — it’s a picture of me now, flying over the California coast where I live now, with the version of my dad and even the specific airplane that I remember from years ago.

It’s a reminder that we’re who and where we are because of many different factors that have propelled us to this place — and we’ve been molded and shaped and tempered by those who’ve loved, encouraged, supported and yes, even fought with us along the way. All those days were hammers and all the people blacksmiths, and we ourselves are yet glowing brightly.

dangit if Dad had been a metalworker that metaphor woulda worked PERFECT


  1. Merbrat

    That is wonderful! Beautiful composition, too!
    Happy Birthday! Warm memories!

  2. Danny

    That last paragraph is pure poetry, and exactly right. Very, very well written.

  3. mike

    What a wonderful and meaningful B-Day gift. Great memories. Even greater Wife. Belated wishes for the day and many more.

    A loyal fan.


  4. Evan Nichols

    With a gift like that, how could it be anything but an excellent Reminder of Mortality (or “Birthday”)? Still, I wish you a belated Happy Birthday, and Many Happy Returns of the Day!

  5. Gary

    I like the jaunty aviator’s scarf!

  6. Alexi

    Happy birthday from a long-time fan, hopefully many more to come. 🙂 That really is a beautiful gift, in every sense of the term.

  7. bpod

    How absolutely brilliant. Thanks for sharing this – many lovely birthday wishes to you!

  8. Yiftach

    “we’re who and where we are because of many different factors that have propelled us to this place ”

    I see what you did there.

    Mazal tov, good sir. Your essay hit me with that poke in the soft tissues back when you wrote/I read it, and I think of it often.

    Keep up the stellar work, David. I consider myself fortunate to be aware of your work and be a fan.

  9. Yiftach

    Oh, and Carly did/signed the piece on MY birthday (the big 4-0 this year) so I really feel like I’m part of the celebration.

  10. Glenn Calvin

    Brilliant! Very touching!

    I’ve got the feeling my dad’s in the jumpseat every leg I fly. Now you and your dad can fly together every day from here on out.


  11. Patrick

    Sweet wife! Happy Birthday!

  12. Thomas

    Good lord, someone topped the brass Piranhamoose!

  13. John B

    What a thoughtful gift! I went and read your essay, and I must say: it’s not fair to make a guy’s eyes well up while he’s at work. Our glass cubicles make it difficult to hide such things.

    I very much enjoy your strip, and your blog, and your beard stuff.

    John B., Oakland

  14. Sam

    Excellent gift! Nothing like flying to remind you of the freedom inherent to life. The painting is great, and was painted for a great reason! I like the reflection of the landscape in your dad’s sunglasses that says, “The whole world’s ahead of us! Where do ya want to go?”

  15. Mary

    I’ve been waiting impatiently to hear you mention this!!! Your wife is definitely a keeper and the picture turned out great!

  16. Wry Mouth

    My son steered me to your comic some months ago. The pieces are so — perfect for he and I, we find you uncanny.

    I am very happy for your happiness. ;o/