I found a frame and placed it on their bookshelf right at their eye level and it makes me smile every time I step into their room.
I was young when she died but I remember Great Grandma as a thoughtful, soft-spoken but strong woman who was full of love for her family and friends. Reminds me of someone else I know who happens to share her name (well, except for the soft spoken part sometimes).
Tonight, as we’re putting the girls to bed I noticed that the bottom half of her picture appeared to be stuck to the glass in the frame. I could tell that the photo had gotten wet. Really wet. I panicked. Not only is it one of the few photos I have of her, it’s the only copy I have and it was obviously shot long before the digital age. No backup on a hard drive. No re-prints to be made and I don’t have the negatives.
Without my great grandmother’s thoughtful, soft-spoken style I immediately barked, “What happened to this picture? Who did this? This is the only copy I have and I’ll never be able to make another one.”
Everyone, including Chris, came up blank. No answers. No idea what happened. Frustrated and upset I watched and listened as the girls said their bedtime prayers before we kissed them goodnight and tucked them in.
It wasn’t long before I heard that creak that only comes from the girls’ door. Little footsteps pitter-pattered their way into the kitchen where I was putting dishes away. I couldn’t tell from the footsteps who was headed my way.Roo rounded the corner with a sad look on her little, round face. Big brown eyes stared up at me but there were no words.
And she broke down. And it was all I could do to not break down, too.
As a photographer we get caught up in the notion that images are everything. Our photographs are all that we have to help us hold on to memories. I was wrong. And I was missing the point.
Yes, I cherish my photographs, but in this case the photograph isn’t what matters. What matters is that my daughter was thoughtful and strong enough to tell the truth – no matter the consequence.