Family Portraits

DSC_1825I know that when it comes to taking pictures, I drive my family crazy. Countless times I have heard the phrase, “Another picture?” or “Haven’t we taken enough?” or “Can I go now?” They can keep complaining. It doesn’t phase me. I will continue to take their pictures, their friends’ pictures, our pets’ pictures, our family pictures, our vacation pictures, our holiday pictures, and any other photos I feel like DSC06333taking because it all boils down to one thing – this event, this memory, this small moment in time will only happen once and only last for an instant, and I want to remember it forever.

It is the norm today for people to snap all kinds of pictures (and let’s admit – they’re mostly selfies) with their phones and leave them there for all eternity, or until their phone dies or breaks, and then the all too familiar cry can be heard “Oh no! All of my pictures are gone!” We’ve all experienced that dreadful moment when we realize that special memory, which we were lucky enough to capture and freeze, has disappeared forever. For me, it was an entire CD with photos from the last Mother’s Day with my grandmother before her stroke. For months, I searched for that CD until I gave up, assuming it was gone forever. Then, a few years later, my grandmother left us for a better place, and I was desperate to find that CD. For those who don’t believe in the power of prayer or the intercession of the saints, let me assure you, I am a true believer. After resuming my search, all the time praying to St. Anthony, I found the CD – in our silverware drawer in the kitchen. The same drawer I open up at least six times a day. It was simply lying in the drawer next to the silverware. Where had it been for the previous three years? I have no idea. 

Mother's Day 1The point is, those pictures meant so much to me because they were all I had left from that day – a day that, at the time, seemed totally unimportant, just another Mother’s Day – but turned out to be the last day that most of our family saw my grandmother the way we would all want to remember her. My girls are much older now, but they remain little in that photo, snuggled next to Granny on the couch, and my Gram remains the woman I loved and looked up to.

This past Saturday, we celebrated Ken’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Leading up to the party, my children, Ken’s sister, and I photo-8spent a lot of time combing through old photo albums and digital photographs. We pulled together almost 200 pictures of my in-laws from the last 50 years – including photos from their high school prom, their wedding, the births of their children, the births of their grandchildren, and every important, and not so important, event in between. The slideshow that ran throughout the night told a story of 50 years of love and happiness, a story brought to life in pictures. 

DSC07592That night, we took even more pictures. The party came and went; some of those faces we’ll see again, and some we won’t, but everyone will live on in our minds and hearts and in those photographs. Our family will always be together in the family photo we took that night just as my family will always be together in the photos we took with my parents on Thanksgiving. And you can bet that I will take many, many more photos on Christmas. It’s what I do, and someday my complaining children will thank me. After all, there will come a time when they will look at one of our family portraits and think “That’s just the way I remember my Mom.” And though it sounds sad, it’s not. Those smiling faces will remind them of times when we were all together, and they will remember just how happy we were in that frozen moment of time.

A Long Line of Love

Nan's Family Pics68My three daughters are extremely lucky in that they come from a very long line of love. On both sides of their family, they have been blessed with a long and loving history. From their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and as far back as we can trace, they have been able to witness couples who have loved unconditionally. Yesterday, I was very happy to wish my parents a happy 52nd wedding anniversary. They learned how to love unconditionally from their own parents, and are a shining example to the rest of us.

Today, I am honored to share with you a guest blog written by my 14-year-old daughter. It exemplifies what real love truly is.

A life lesson that is important to me is to be proud of whom and what you love. This is so, so important. It wasn’t exactly told to me, but instead it was shown. They didn’t know they were showing me something that still stands out to me today. I don’t even think they realized how much so, but my great grandparents were very proud of each other. They loved each other so much and made each other so happy that they talked about how great the other one was, and they loved glorifying everything good about each other.

I strongly believe that my great grandparents, or Nan and Pop to me, were a couple of very special people. They met when they were teenagers and Nan was walking down the street, and Pop told his friends that she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen and that he was determined to marry her someday. Well, if I know something about my grandfather, it’s that he never gave up on something he wanted. I think everyone finds true love, but theirs was so strong.

I had the privilege of knowing my great grandparents for a few years of my life. I wish they were still here with us, but even in their short time with me, they showed me so many things, and they impacted my life greatly. I lived across the street from them until Pop passed away in 2011, and Nan couldn’t fend for herself, so she lived in a nursing home. Living so close to them was a blessing. I could walk across the street after school, and they would tell me stories, and I loved hearing them. They were such lively people who never ceased to amaze me.

Hearing them talk about each other really showed me how important it is to be proud of the person you love. Before I started to notice the little things they did and said for each other, I don’t think it was as big of a deal to me. As I got older and their health declined, I really started noticing. After Pop passed away, Nan told nonstop stories about how they met and how great a person he was. I don’t think, even once, did Nan not talk about Pop during our frequent visits.

Both of them have passed on by now, but one thing I will never forget is when my grandfather passed away.  They had a military service because he was a veteran. During the service, they presented a flag to my grandmother. When the guards handed her the flag she began to cry, and the only words she could manage were “I’m so proud to have loved him.” This was such a powerful moment in my life, and I could never forget it. I’m proud to have called them my grandparents, too.

  • Morgan Schisler, 2015

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online. Her children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.