For my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary a few years ago, I gave them a digital picture frame. On it, I loaded many of their old slides and a slew of family photos past and present.
When I picked up my parents to bring them to our home for Christmas a few weeks ago, I pulled the memory card from the frame so I could add more recent photos to it.
Unfortunately, I forgot I had the card in the pocket of my jeans, and it went through the laundry. But, fortunately, when I put the card in our digital photo frame to test it, all the photos were intact. Believe me, that was a big “whew!”
So for the past couple days, I’ve been watching all the images of my parents’ lives stream across the screen. And it makes me both happy and a little sad at the same time.
I look at the images of my mom as a young bride and newly-minted mother. I see her hair change from auburn to gray (or “silver” as she used to insist we call it). Interestingly, it got more silver after I was brought into the family. Coincidence? Dunno. I think I’ll choose to believe it was just heredity at work and it was simply time for those strands to turn silver!
I see photos of my dad as a young father with a full head of hair...er...wait a minute. On second thought, the top of dad's head was a little sparse even back then. While mom's hair turned silver at a fairly young age, dad lost most of his pretty early on. Nevertheless, he always had a big smile on his face as he balanced one or more kids on his lap.
I marvel at the baby pictures of me and my siblings and photos of us when we excitedly opened our presents from Santa or played on the beach. I can’t believe we were ever that little.
But I also see pictures of family members who are no longer with us and friends of my parents from the time before I was born whom I’ve never met.
So I see a whole lifetime in those images.
And I realize how short it really is.
At 21, who can picture themselves at 81? I don’t think many of us have that ability. If we did, we’d have probably rethought that whole baby oil suntanning thing we did in the 70s.
But I really don’t think we realize how quickly time passes – at least until we get past the halfway mark and wonder where the years have gone.
None of us, of course, knows when our time has come to depart from this earth. We know it could be any day, but we somehow don’t really believe it. We always think we have another tomorrow on the books.
When you reach my dad and mom’s ages of 88 and 89, respectively, you know there can’t be many tomorrows left. I can only hope that in their senior years, they look back on their lives and know they’ve had a good one. I know they traveled the world while they were able and lived life to the fullest. I hope they look at their children’s lives and recognize they did a good job raising them and that they are all settled and happy. And I hope those thoughts give them peace.
I have friends who have recently lost parents. And I know many people who were missing their loved ones this recent holiday season. So I know I am fortunate that I was able to spend another Christmas with both my mom and dad by my side.
So when I load more recent photos on their digital memory card before returning it to them, I will take a moment to reflect on my life and think about all that I still want to accomplish.
And I will get to work. After all, as the old saying goes, “This isn’t a dress rehearsal.”
Thanks, Mom and Dad. For the reminder. And for a lifetime of happy memories.
Now it’s time to go make some more.