Lin Arison is happy.
Shes taking a visitor on a tour of her home library, accompanied by her little dog Fred, pointing out her favorite movies, describing a party shell host there for the young artists she adores and simply looking forward to everything.
The next day, she would attend the rehearsal for the 25th season opening concert of the New World Symphony, which she and her late husband Ted co-founded in 1987 with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. On Oct. 15, she will accept the arts education award from Americans for the Arts, a national advocacy group.
Then there is the brand new great-granddaughter to meet in Israel, the book shes working on (her fourth) and the recently announced expansion of the National YoungArts Foundation another organization she started with Ted to the Bacardi Tower and Museum complex on Biscayne Boulevard.
She pauses as a thought strikes her: Do you realize what a good life Ive made for myself?
Possibly no one is more surprised by this than Lin Arison herself, who said she crashed after her husbands death in 1999 and stayed crashed for a couple of years.
There was so much love between Ted and Lin, said Miami auto dealer Norman Braman, a longtime friend of the couple. When Ted died, it was devastating. She came out of that. No one expected her to; no one expected Lin Arison to build a life for herself.
Except, said Braman, I think maybe Ted did.
Today, said Arison, 75, she believes she is carrying out the wishes of her husband founder of Carnival Cruise Lines while still living a full life.
I finally am doing my own things; Im making my own decisions, she said. Ted is with me. I know Im doing the right thing.
In the years after her husbands death, the famously spotlight-averse Arison avoided Miami. This is where they had built a life before moving in 1990 to Israel, where Ted was born, and being here without him was too painful.
She took a trip to France in 2000 with her granddaughter Sarah, and then several more over the next few years. What she found on those trips turned into a book, Travels with Van Gogh and the Impressionists: Discovering the Connections, and also made her miss the students in YoungArts, who she said reminded her of the artists she was writing about.
I feel strong enough now, she told herself. Im going to go back to Miami and reconnect with my artists. That was the beginning of my blind groping to figure out what I wanted to become.
So she returned to Miami, where every year YoungArts brings about 150 youths who show artistic promise and pairs them with masters in their field.
Founded 31 years ago as the National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts, the organization announced earlier this week that it was buying the Bacardi property to use as its national headquarters.
The $10 million to buy the site came from the organizations endowment, which Arison boosted in 2010 after selling two pieces of art a Claude Monet waterlily painting and a portrait by Amedeo Modigliani, Jeanne Hebuterne Wearing a Hat for $39 million at auction. She sold them anonymously (as usual), but The New York Times identified her as the seller.