Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why I take your picture

I know you don’t like it when I tell you to smile and look at the camera. You’re sitting there doing something cute or at a school function or talking with friends and all of a sudden MOM interrupts and says, “SMILE!”

How embarrassing, right?

I will never live this one down.
I was the same way when I was your age. There was nothing worse to me than posing for a photo – those split seconds of motionless uncomfortableness while my mom fumbled with the camera were enough to make my smile turn into a frown and ruin whatever memory of me she was trying to capture, until she just gave up and snapped the picture that would haunt me at Thanksgiving dinners for the rest of my life. 

But do me a favor. Just grin and bear it. 

I NEED these photos of you, and someday, you will too. Especially when I ask someone to take a picture of you and me together. Or I make you pose for that selfie and you accuse me of trying to be “cool.” I’m not. I want a picture of you and me – to remember these moments with you years from now, and so you can look back on them when I'm gone.

Yep, that's me. Probably summer of '68?
I don’t have a whole lot of pictures of my mom and me together. Sure, there’s the collection of tattered black and whites and grainy colored photos from when I was little: Mom playing with me in the sandbox, Mom reading me a story, Mom presenting me with my homemade birthday cake. 

But as I got older, the photos with the two of us became rarer. Opportunities just didn’t present themselves, or she was the one behind the camera snapping the moments and milestones in her daughter’s life. In fact, the last couple of photos I have of the two of us are selfies I took during her hospitalization. Some might find that inappropriate, but I cherish those photos because it was probably the closest I’ve ever felt to her and I wanted to remember it. Maybe I was making up for lost time. 

Trust me – someday you’ll want to look back on photos of yourself in different stages of your life. There will be spotty, cloudy memories that will be made clear with an image that will take you right back to that place in your life. They’ll make you smile, and they’ll make you cry. The collection of photos I have of you will be my legacy to you when I’m no longer here to snap them. 

Son's idea of "posing for the camera."
And someday, you’ll search through them for the ones of you and me. You’ll covet those the most, whether I have you in a headlock because you won’t look at the camera or if we were lucky enough to have someone snap a moment in time when neither of us was looking. 

That’s why I take your picture. It’s why I take our picture. Know that I do it because I love you and I want to remember you, I want you to remember me, and I want you to remember us.

Friday, March 7, 2014

What Will Matter

Today was my mom's funeral. 

I don't have the wherewithal to write anything prolific at this time, but wanted to share the words that she requested be read by a family member today during the Mass. That family member was me, and it was hard to get through it, but I think it's profound enough and important enough to share. 

Hug your families tight tonight. Don't let petty grievances get in the way of your love and loyalty toward each other. In the end, it's your family who will matter, as well what you give of yourself to this world while you're here. This Mom knew.

What Will Matter

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
The things you collected, whether treasures or forgotten, 
will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.

So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away. 
It won’t matter where you came from 
or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.

It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant. 

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought but what you built,
Not what you got but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught. 

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
But how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone. 

What will matter is not your memories, 
but the memories of those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, 
by whom and for what. 

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstances but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters. 

-Michael Josephson