Monday, February 28, 2011

Miracle Moments

During the minutes immediately surrounding my father's death in January, a "person" stole his wallet off of his body. Almost unfathomable, isn't it? We have a pretty good idea of the person responsible...but still no wallet.

The mental image of someone doing that to my father was almost more than I could handle. I felt physically sick. I plotted revenge. I swore that I would find justice. Nearly two months later I can honestly say that all of those feelings are still present to some extent, but it is getting better.

The loss of money was not really an issue. Daddy kept his cash in a separate pocket. Credit cards were cancelled within hours....and thankfully none had been used. Daddy's name was not by any means a common name, so the chances of identity theft are slim. Even security was arranged for my parents' house during the time we were gone for the funeral. With all of those concerns taken care of, you'd think it wouldn't have been a big deal.

But I wanted the wallet. Not for the money, or the credit cards, or the license and social security card. I wanted the wallet back because for as long as I can remember, whenever Daddy would pull his wallet out in front of me, I'd inevitably take it from him and flip through the photo inserts. I knew that my dad had some photos of all of us growing through the years. I clearly remembered the photo of us on the couch. Try as I may, I could not let go of the image of the "person" who stole the wallet finding no money in it and throwing it to the ground, photos and all. I imagined cars driving over it, rain ruining it over time. My brother, on the other hand, immediately remembered the $2 bill that Daddy had carried most of his life "for luck". THAT is what he wanted back. As much as I mourned the photos, I could tell that my brother equally mourned the loss of that $2 bill.

Daddy's co-workers searched the area for the wallet. They searched dumpsters and checked the ditches. They did all they could. The police interviewed the "person", but as you can imagine, with no proof, there was nothing they could do. So we moved on. Still with the images in my mind.

Then about 4 weeks after his death my mother was putting the phone on the charger and looked up on the shelf in their office and saw something. Curious, she reached up and pulled down three sleeves from a photo insert. From my daddy's wallet. They were no longer connected to each other, and the best we can figure is he put them there on the shelf until he could get a new insert to replace the old, worn-out one that had fallen apart.

Those particular inserts, miraculously, contained the photos I remember so fondly, photos of the grandkids....and the $2 bill.

Mom came for a visit last weekend. I took the wallet inserts and scanned them into my computer so that I will never forget the mysterious world we live in.

Some moments are just too precious not to share.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Things my daddy taught me...(the first in an infinitely recurring series)

This past Christmas, last month, I drew my daddy's name in our Christmas gift exchange. Not an easy task to buy for him. But back in October, he had expressed interest in some of my "framed" photography so that was a thought. The problem with giving my photos as a gift is that I never like to presume that any of my shots are worthy of someone else's "taste" in art. So, though I had a slight idea of what to give him, I had no specifics.

Then I remembered..... THE PICTURE!! All of my life, I have known of THE PICTURE. It is a beautiful work of art done by my Grandmother, my daddy's mom. She passed away before I was born, but the art has been rotated amongst the families for as long as I can remember. I also remember years ago that Daddy worked very dilligently (before Photoshop) shooting photos of the picture.

Here is where one lesson my daddy taught me comes into play. While I've often been told to find a specialty area with my photography, my daddy told me when I first started shooting, "Shoot everything!" I listened to him! Soooooo, two years ago (I believe) while waiting for the annual 42 Championship Game to be determined at our Family Round Up, I saw THE PICTURE on my cousin's wall. So, I switched around some lenses and shot probably 20 shots of it in about 10 seconds. Low light, poor preparation, reflections on the glass...but like Daddy said, shoot it all...ya never know.

I was at my "day job" when I had this idea for the gift, and I could hardly stand it until I could get home, sort through 1 million (or so) disks, and find the images I shot of THE PICTURE. I found it. Then I played with it. Worked on the lighting, sharpened it up...tried to remove the reflection. Then found a frame of approximate dimensions in my stack of frames (I do things backwards...find the "frame" and then scale the photo to match). Then for the next 6 days, I fretted and worried, and planned and thought. One thing I loved about the involved 4 generations. My grandmother's work. My idea to "reproduce" it, my son and daughter helped with the planning and putting together of the frame, and my husband did the spray-painting of the frame. And, of course, Daddy would be getting the gift.

He seemed to like it. Had bought the hanging supplies a few days before he passed. I regret tremendously that I didn't get a shot of him with the gift. Well, I kind of got one, but as you will soon see, it was one of those "from the hip" shots. But again, I followed his advice, not only to shoot everything, but also to NEVER destroy a negative (or original version in this day of digital). So I found the imperfect photo. Just a captured moment on a crazy Christmas Day....that I'll never forget.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Could NOT believe how long since I've updated. And how much has changed since that time. Perhaps the changes have provided me with some explanations as to the poor updating!

Since July...

My wonderful mother-in-law, Janice Richardson, passed away in August. She had been diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma about a year and a half earlier, in April of 2009. She fought hard to live so she could meet her newest grandchild, my niece Alexanda. She met her, she held her, she fell in love with her. The remainder of the summer was beyond rough. But through that tears, we got to say things we might never have said. That was good.

Then came fall. Fall was fun and busy and though our lives had changed, we kept on going, in "our new reality". That was a phrase that I started using to describe our family during the summer. I think I tried to put some normalcy into our world with that phrase.

I even wrote a note on my Facebook page at the end of 2010, detailing some of the changes, good and bad, exciting and scary.

Then came January 12th. Started out bad. Had a sick puppy. Doesn't sound like the end of the world to most, but considering we had lost our last puppy back in October, it struck fear in our hearts. I even posted some silly, tough sounding Facebook status that referred the fact that 2011 had better "back off" with the bad luck...I was going to have none of it.

Little did I know. That afternoon, I got a call from my mom. Daddy had died. Suddenly, unexpectedly, minutes after clocking out from his job because he felt sick. My daddy. My mom's "sweetheart" for nearly 50 years.

Naturally, the next few days, and now nearly 2 weeks, have been painful. On the one hand, he did not suffer. He didn't have to suffer so many things that he feared with his health. He was just gone. I have no doubt he is in Heaven. No doubt at all. On the other hand, there was no time for goodbyes. No holding his hand and assuring him I loved him, and thanking him for the life he has given me.

I've also been reminded of the importance of family....And I don't just mean the immediate family. The cousins, the aunts, uncles, 2nd cousins, 3rd cousins, the whole clan. The importance of lessons taught. The importance of so many things.

My brother says we will be forever changed but we will make it. How true. Forever changed, but also forever the same because we were raised on a solid foundation, thanks to Mom and Dad.

Hug your loved ones. Tell them you love them.