December 12, 2013
It's the day before our wedding anniversary and as is true of most moments of reflection, it seems amazing that 14 years have gone by so quickly. But before celebrating the love in my life, let us celebrate two other beautiful women in my life. In digging through some old hard drives in search of images from a past photo session I stumbled upon a photo from December 13th, 2003. Instantly my throat clogged up a bit and I smiled hard because of the love felt, but mostly to choke back the tears that wanted to come. It's a photograph from our wedding now 14 years ago tomorrow.
It's easy to recognize the century old building decorated in fresh cut greens from that cold December evening. On the left is my Grandma Georgia holding a program and grinning. She's standing next to my Grandma Emmy and they look like two school girls giddily pouring over the evenings agenda. Photographs hold meaning. This photograph is particularly emotional to me because 4 years later my Grandma Emmy would succumb to pancreatic cancer. And 14 years later my Grandma Georgia is still just as beautiful but time has taken it's toll and she most likely wouldn't be up for the journey to celebrate our nuptials.
After the initial impact of seeing someone that you haven't seen for ten years, what stands out is the brightness in the eyes. The joy on the faces. Time reversed. The brain goes to the place of longing. While I don't want to leave my present-day life, instinctively I want to crawl into this picture and hug my grandmas, two for the price of one. It's reminiscent of my 7 year old daughter who scurries to burrow in between my wife and I when we take a minute out of our day to hug while our morning coffee is brewing and the kids scramble to get ready for school. As someone fluent in the love language of physical touch, there's nothing quite like that feeling of fully leaning into a hug from someone you hold dear.
Still looking at this photo, the urge to hug someone doesn't go away. But what comes next is the memories shared with my Grandmas. As a small child sitting in my grandma Emmy's kitchen watching her flip tortillas. Or running out of my Grandma Georgia's house, through the wrought iron gate with by brothers, floaties intact, and jumping into their pool, the cold water drowning out the thick Arizona heat.
As a young adult I remember my Grandma Georgia painting under vaulted sky lights filled with the tops of tall evergreen trees. The way she held our daughter and looked lovingly into the eyes of her great grandchild. I'm reminded of the last time I saw my Grandma Emmy. She sat quietly on the couch smiling, eyes closed listening to a chorus of simultaneous arguments and laughter loudly coming from the next room. She told me it was music to her ears. (I aspire to have that level of patience and enjoyment with my own kids.) Her thin voice, weakened by the cancer in her body during one of the last phone conversations I had with her. She told me 'photos help keep people close to your heart.' Which seems to sum up this whole exercise of writing the thoughts and emotions that spring to life in seeing an photograph from the past.
If there are two things I feel I can do for my kids, the first would be to love them. And to tell them I love them. Not just at college graduation or on a wedding day. But all the time. The second is to leave them with memories. Make life an adventure. Life is difficult, but try to have some fun. I want to leave them with memories in their minds and cigar boxes full of photographs to help aid the process. For the reasons I've expressed above, my hope is that these photos would be a treasure to them someday.
Why not tell someone you love them while you have the chance? Why not do something memorable today? What could go wrong?
*Huge thank you to my friend Paul K. for taking this photo, what a gift.