I took this on the night of my dad's birthday, in the front yard of their house, just as the last of the light was leaving the sky. It was the first birthday I'd been able to spend with him in years. And looking at this today, I'm a little emotional. (What else is new, right?!) ;)
I love the gray in my dad's mustache, the laugh lines that he so happily earned (mostly from telling stories and jokes and pulling mischievous pranks). His bright, smiling eyes. That familiar grin. His warm bear hug. I look at this picture and I see my features that so closely match his. I am awed at how similar our faces are, 22 years apart. I realize how alike we are and yet how different. And I hope that I can keep a warm smile on my face and enjoy my family just as much as he does, in 22 more years.
I remember the arguments we had when I was a teenager. (Don't all dads & teenage daughters have those?) But I remember when he allowed me the freedom to make my own choices, and how good it felt to have his approval, even in adulthood. I flash back to him in the hospital years ago after he'd had a heart attack, and how afraid I was that I'd lose him. I remember how he flew to Clearwater in July, just to get right back in the car and help me drive 1000 miles back to Kentucky with my kids. How he mailed me back all the little items I'd left at their house, and included a letter and money for me to spend on his grandkids. How he'd fly right back here in a heartbeat if I told him that I needed him.
I see a man who loves Jesus with all his heart and mind and soul. One who tries his best to show his love for others every single day. One who always says that the only thing he wants for his birthday (and Christmas, and Father's Day) is for his family to be together, to hug him, or to call and tell him how much we love him. He's sentimental and affectionate, and he pays close attention to the small things in life. He believes that there is always a Great Plan in motion.
I see a musician, a talented man with gifted hands who can play any instrument you give him. I hear the bass guitar and the banjo and see him nodding his head a little bit to the beat, and I hear his deep gravely voice singing the low notes.
As for me, I see a tired mommy. :) One who was a little weary from the day, and dreading the long trip home that would begin the next morning. I remember that I had cried all of my makeup off earlier that day, but I'd been comforted by reassurance and encouragement from my sweet parents and from using my camera, as always. I see peace and strength. I see a woman who still lives to create, to document relationships and emotions and love. I see reflections of my family's blessings and joy in that last bit of daylight. I was proud to take this photo with my dad, on his birthday. Makeup or no. To document this moment. To celebrate him.
That's what I see when I look at this photograph. I thank God that my dad is still here on earth with us, and that he stopped to hug me and smile with me and my camera that night. And I hope that one day my kids can look at our picture albums together and tell me what they see in our faces. Maybe they'll see similarities between us too.
My belief is that images aren't just representations of what you look like right now. They are so much more than that... the good ones, at least. I think photographs are supposed to make you feel something, to remember, and to hope. To look at the past, the present and the future.
What do you hope your children see when they look at photos of you together?