Not only are these beautiful beings treasured, but MAN...do they know how to treasure!
Meet my parents, Laura & Jim. :)
You know, I have to say, that when it comes to the "love" department, I am deeply, deeply spoiled. My source for giving love, and my hunger for love, are enormous. Immeasurable. When you are raised by two of the most loving, and emotionally generous beings on the planet, it's hard not to exist with love at the core of everything that you are.
"Store up for yourself treasures in Heaven," I heard more than once from my mom - when I didn't make cheering, and when I got made fun of for not having the name-brand jeans or the pretty hair. Everything - EVERYTHING mattered more than what we had or how we did. The focus was on who we are. WE. We precious, treasured, cherished beings.
My parents. They were, for sure, my soft place to land. As a super sensitive kid, who never quite fit in, I turned to them quite regularly for comfort. There was no judgment. No, "You should have...." Just complete understanding and support (I mean, there was an occasional lecture, but the underlying current included love and a safety net.)
Even as a little, little girl, I remember witnessing my parents as they listened to people who were grieving, and stepping up to help take care of friends who were sick. Without judgment, they helped a single mom get herself out of a financial mess. The saved a beaten dog who lived under a trailer. They made my sisters and me buy our own skis and Cabbage Patch Dolls and Swatch watches, and then they paid for college. They showed us what they valued.
Before all kinds of Facebook memes about surrendering to love and being a light, my parents did both. I can't tell you how many times I've heard my dad or mom listen to someone who was upset, only to bring them back to the "here and now."
Before all kinds of "fertilizer gives you cancer" in the news, my parents refused to put chemicals on our lawn. (I hated having the brown lawn in the neighborhood at the time, but now, man, I am PROUD! They were steadfast in their beliefs.)
As an adult, my parents saw me through some issues I'd gotten myself into. Issues they'd warned me about all my life. They, in the blink of an eye, without reservation, relieved me of my burden and gave me a clean slate. I was able to breathe again. "Why," I asked, "why in the world, after telling me time and time again not to do this, would you just step in and fix it for me?"
"Because we love you," was their only response.
Nothing my sisters and I ever threw out them was too much for them to bear. Flat tires, an emotionally needy night from miles away at college, a babysitter, dog sitter, you name it. "No hour too late, no mile too great," they would say.
They've said "No," a ton, too. Don't get me wrong. If we requested something that wasn't in alignment our best interest, it was NOT going to happen. And, nope! They didn't care who else heard, "Yes." And somewhere deep inside, after the temper tantrum and the door slamming and nasty looks, there was a well of incredible relief.
Anyway, I'm surprised, as I sit here and type this tonight, that this session came together today. I've always wanted to photograph them as my treasured beings, but my mom is a bit, shall we say, stubborn about seeing her own beauty (or at least to admitting to it), and my dad has a hard time getting around, although I believe he's still quite fond of himself!
Yesterday afternoon, though, when my parents surprised the kids and me with a visit by both of them, I noticed that my dad was like an inspired little kid - inspired and tough to slow down. He finally settled himself at my piano, and, remarkably, he began to play pieces he'd memorized years and years ago. Pieces he played (and sang) for me when I was a baby.
While he played, Abby and Mimi got some Words With Friends action!
My mom had mentioned that although my dad's medications typically drain him, his bursts of energy were becoming entertaining (and sometimes alarming, like when he got up out of his chair without assistance, and my mom couldn't find him).
So, I said, "Hey mom, if daddy has the energy, why don't you both come to my studio for some photos tomorrow afternoon."
And they did!
First, I captured my mom. :)
Then, my newest "sister,' NIna, wanted to join in.
After a teensy bit of primping, Dad was ready for his debut. :)
I guess the smiles do come when mom makes reference to a joke my dad used to tell.
My dad. I see you in there!
Being quite serious about my work, I tried to pose my parents together. When WILL they grow up, already?
Finally, they settle in, and start listening to me, and their love shines through.
After we wrap up the group shot, I ask, as I always do during a session, if there was anything else they were hoping to gain from this experience. My mom, always thinking of everyone else, says, "I'd like to take a shot of you and Daddy."
And then, we goof around with the remote. (I wish my sisters, Amy and Emily, were here!)