Monday, April 26, 2010

The Bigger Picture: A gift

My sister and I have been collecting photos of my dad the past few days because we're making a picture memorial for the wake and funeral. It's not been easy for a couple reasons:


1. We have a rather large Italian family, and trying to find a picture of my father with every.single.family.member is like trying to capture every grain of sand on the beach. It's nearly impossible. There are just too many family members and too many years, 56 to be exact, from which to gather these images.


2. My dad was a captain of the Chicago Heights Fire Department, which means he doesn't just have a rather large Italian family, he also has a zillion brothers, because that's what firemen are to each other -- a brotherhood.


3. Shuffling through photos of our dad with my boys, with our little girl selves, with other loved ones stirs so many memories, feelings, emotions. It makes us smile, remember, sometimes giggle. But it makes us cry, weep that there won't be new pictures, new memories, new stories.


But I found an unexpected gift as we waded through the parts of our dad's life that were captured on film when my step mom gave me the memory card from the camera we bought him two Christmases ago. The moment I slipped the little card into my computer, I realized I was looking at more than just pictures of my dad -- I was seeing life through his eyes from the past ten months of his life ... the last ten months of his life.

I found photos of him and his firefighter brothers, celebrating his closest friend's retirement. Pictures of him and his sisters at his dad's 85th birthday. I found snapshots of him with his hunting buddies alongside beautiful photos of snow-capped mountains from their last trip.

I found photographs of my dad being awarded honors from the city for having coordinated a plan to save a dozen lives from a burning building.

I found pictures of a family wedding, snapped photographs of him and my step mom and the last shot I have of just him and me alone.

I found pictures of my boys, so many pictures of my boys.

Pictures from Christmas of him and my sister

and G.'s second birthday

Some uncentered, some unfocused but all with the same intent of capturing my babies' smallness, the fleeting moments, the beauty, the joy, the love.

And as I flipped through the files, I saw exactly what my dad valued most, what he loved most. I saw life through his eyes -- the highlights, what made him smile. I saw the images I imagine he may have reviewed in his final moments. And I smiled because those memories, they are beautiful and good and most importantly they were his. And now, with that simple gift of having that memory card, they become my sister's and my step mom's and my family's and my sons' and my own ... the perfect last words he never got the chance say.

13 comments:

  1. Nancy from Fear and Parenting in Las VegasApril 26, 2010 at 11:41 PM

    That's incredible. What a gift.

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  2. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. My grandma said one thing after we lost Grandpa that I have to remind myself of daily - "It's hard to lose someone you love, but the alternative is to not have ever loved them." We have these precious memories because we loved and were loved - bittersweet blessings. Praying for you, dear friend.

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  3. So beautiful. What lovely pictures and memories to treasure forever.

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  4. Oh Hyacynth...I have goosebumps on my skin and tears in my eyes! Seeing and hearing about what your dad wanted to capture and remember...wow, what a treasure to have. I know it must have been incredibly hard to look through those pictures. But my goodness, that man loved his family! Big huge hugs to you!

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  5. What an incredible gift!
    Thinking of you.

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  6. I got chills seeing those photos. So glad you got that memory card.

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  7. What an incredible gift, to be able to see what he saw all those years. The things that brought him so much joy. It brings tears to my eyes. He sounds like such a wonderful father and grandfather.

    Still thinking of you frequently. xo.

    natalie

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  8. This reminds me to keep taking pictures and to allow pictures to be taken of me too. Thank you.

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  9. Know that I'm thinking and praying for you.

    A few words for you.

    http://www.rachelsramblings.com/2010/04/sympathy-for-friend.html

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  10. That is so cool!
    After Josh and I married, I met his family all at once, after his Grandmother passed away. She was an amazing woman who welcomed me to the family before we were even married. I spent a year talking to her over the phone telling her I'd get to meet her someday when I got back to the States. But I didn't get back in time.
    Josh's family also did a photo memory of her and, while I knew no one in the pictures, I got to know Nana through those pictures. It was wonderful to be able to share those moments with Josh.

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  11. This is a beautiful blog entry, Hy. Keeping you in my thoughts.

    -Amber

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  12. Oh. How bittersweet. My dad died almost a year ago and we barely have any photos of him. Why his parents didn't keep them is beyond me. But we did find some photos he had taken in his laptop (of wildflowers) and had them framed. So sorry for your loss!

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  13. Oh, I love you ladies. Thank you so much for your comments and for your support and love through this seriously hard week. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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There's nothing better than good conversation ... but not while talking to myself. Will you play a part in this discussion?

AND will you pretty please have your email linked to your account or leave it for me so I can respond?

Thanks for taking the time to make these thoughts into conversation.

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