Looking Ahead / Looking Back
When my wife decorates the house for Christmas, some of the decor is winter-themed. That means when Christmas season is over and those decorations get packed up and stored again in the basement, the general winter-themed items like snowmen and snow globes remain on display. So, you get used to the way everything looks. But once we entered the annual tug of war between winter and spring all of the winter decorations are boxed back up and returned to the basement as well. I think she doesn’t want anyone to catch her with a “Let it Snow” plaque on the wall right after a March snowfall. She doesn’t want to be held responsible.
So, I wasn’t surprised when early last week I came home to find that winter, at least inside winter, had been relegated to storage. Inside spring comes a little slowly though, especially when a foot of snow still covers the yard. The first springtime decorations to return are the family photos on the fireplace mantle and on the coffee table in the living room that had been seasonally replaced by white frosted pine boughs and twinkling lights.
It was good to get reacquainted with the photos, especially the ones on the fireplace mantle. The photos on the coffee table are of grandchildren, so they tend to get replaced at least yearly when the latest school pictures are taken. The photos on the fireplace are lifetime pictures that can’t be replaced.
From left to right the first picture is my parent’s wedding photo. They stand side-by-side looking out from a black and white past into an unknown future. As the trailer child I would guess that my parents were in their mid-40’s in the earliest memories that I have of them. It seems a little strange to see them so young. I am older now than my mother was when she passed away, and Michelle and I have been married three years longer than they were when she made good on her promise of “till death do us part”. My dad followed her five years later. Their life together is all memories now; no more dreams.
My in-laws smile out from the next picture frame over. The picture was taken on their 25th wedding anniversary. He had teased for weeks that he had picked out a charcoal suit with a pink tie. She poses with a smile of relief because he did have a new light gray sport coat but he didn’t have a tie of any color on for their picture. We threw them a nice party. I got introduced to the very odd tradition of the infamous “mock wedding”. Apparently I am way too serious-minded to appreciate the humor of men wearing wigs and sporting balloon-enhanced bosoms. They made it to their 50th anniversary but passed away just a few years later only three months apart.
The next picture over, Michelle and I look out from our own wedding portrait. We were so sure that we were ready for the world. Looking back, I just smile. Turned out we weren’t ready at all, but together we figured out a way. You can only discover the deep meaning of wanting, needing and loving each other by living it out together. Commitment is a day-by-day vocation. I chose wisely; I’m much more skeptical of her choice!
Lastly, Michelle and I pose with our four grown children. They each now have spouses and children of their own. Being ‘our child’ is a smaller and smaller part of who they are. But from our standpoint being ‘our child’ is more and more of who they are becoming.
I look back at them all as they all look out at me. That’s love; that’s life. Beautiful.