My parents gave my sister and me a treasure of a gift this past Christmas, one of those gifts that make true the statement, “good things come in small packages.” It was a tiny camera memory card–one for each of us–that held a photographic record of our entire lives. My dad had spent hours and hours going through boxes and boxes of slides. I can remember many happy hours huddled on the couch in my parents’ living room, in the dark, watching slide shows. “Which decade shall we watch tonight?” dad would say as he wrestled the screen into the living room. He’d plug in the projector and let the lamp heat up while he dug into the upstairs closet, scanning the boxes for the chosen dates.
We’d watch the many many (many–ha! love ya dad) photos of airplanes. My dad, an Air Force pilot, always had his camera with him above the deserts of Arizona, often in the back seat as he trained the pilot in the front seat. I have to say, I have always been astounded and impressed by the power in those planes and the fact that my dad knew how to tame them.
We’d watch the old slides of mom and dad before my sister and I came along. Young people laughing, planning, wondering where life would take them.
My dad’s Air Force career took our family from Arizona, to New York, to Pennsylvania (to be with my parents’ families during my dad’s tour in Viet Nam), to Maryland (where my sister joined us), to Germany, to Massachusetts. Every decade held some new adventure.
So my dad went painstakingly through hundreds of slides and copied the ones that included me. The pictures take me from being a tiny baby up through my toddler years with my favorite red hobby horse, my elementary years, my awkward (trust me) junior high years, my high school years at the American School on the Rhine, my college years at Houghton, and the day I wed my soulmate.
As we’d sit in the dark often laughing at the old slides, someone would inevitably say, “Where did the time go?”
Where indeed . . .
As we anticipate the birth of our first grandchild and the marriage of our oldest son, I find myself asking the same question. My daughter in her little dress with the red apple on it going around the room asking every person if they were “happy?” My oldest son in his Thomas the Tank Engine pajamas asking me to read another book. My youngest son dashing down the hallway, giggling all the way.
Where does the time go?
As I look forward to these joyous occasions, I can’t help but feel a bit melancholy. I want to recapture every moment of all those busy years. The early days of marriage in that first tiny upstairs apartment. Our first home, remodeled from the bottom up and the inside out. The three tiny babies we brought home one right after the other. The massive sandbox and playhouse my husband built for the kids. The birthday parties. The many many quiet moments reading stories, one child on each side and one on my lap. I want all those moments back. So in quiet moments I try to recapture sparkling times from the corners of my memory or the yellowing pages of photo albums.
I pray for my children as they do what we raised them to do–go out and make their way into the world. I pray for my daughter and her husband as they prepare for their first child and start to make those blessed family memories. I pray for my son and the young woman who will soon be his wife as they prepare to create a new family of their own. I pray for my youngest son as he seeks God’s plan for his life.
Family. That’s what it’s all about.
Thanks mom and dad for the memories. Thanks for what you did for me, letting me find my way. My husband and I did our best to do the same for our kids. They’ve given me joyous memories. The time went fast but I’m grateful for every moment.
Life, family, and memories. What a wonderful gift.