I was looking at family photos recently, and it got me to thinking about how the family photo has changed over the years.
Our family photo began with the marriage of my parents. A couple of years later, I was added to the photo. Then 2 years later, my brother was added. Nine years later my sister entered the photo. The location of our family changed a lot over the years. I lived in Waco, Texas; Salina, Kansas; Bangor, Maine; Wiesbaden, Germany; and Omaha, Nebraska before eventually settling in Dallas/Fort Worth area. While in Germany, our family spent a summer in Newbury, England.
In 1979, my husband was added to the picture, followed by one daughter in 1982 and another daughter in 1985. My sister got married in the 1990s. A nephew became a part of the picture in 1999. A niece was added in 2000 and another niece in 2001. In 2004 my older daughter got married. Enter my first awesome son-in-law. My brother also got married. My granddaughter was born in 2007.
If we could just add to our family photo without having to deal with the loss of family members, life would be great. However, there comes a day when we have to say good-bye to those we love and cherish. My dad passed away in the fall of 2007 after a forty year battle with Multiple Sclerosis. A picture of the last family photo which included my dad is still on my mother’s fireplace mantel.
Another nephew was born in 2008. Also, in 2008, I added another awesome son-in-law. Then my older grandson was born in 2009. He was followed by my younger grandson in 2014.
Sadly, my brother passed away a little over 2 years ago from a massive heart attack. We were not prepared for this, and it took us all by surprise. I think my mother still has a hard time dealing with the passing of my brother at times. You never think you will be called upon to bury a child.
Just about a month ago, my older son-in-law succumbed to a very rare and aggressive type of thyroid cancer which metastasized to his lungs. He fought this cancer for 6 1/2 years. He went through several chemo drugs and clinical trials and treatments. There were times when we got good news from M.D. Anderson that his tumors had shrunk. And there were times when the tumors had grown. From his lungs, the cancer spread elsewhere and finally took his life. Even though we knew the cancer would likely take his life at an early age (he was only 35), we still kept hoping for some miracle drug to arrive on the scene. He was set to start a new trial at M.D. Anderson when he lost the battle. He had been a part of our lives for nearly 20 years, and I will miss him acutely. I’m sure it will be a while before I want a new family picture of my older daughter and her children without my son-in-law. Thankfully, they had taken family pictures in the fall.
When I look at the last full family photo we took this past Christmas, it is sad to see that some of our family members weren’t there. Other photos in the future will certainly not include some cherished family members. Either they will be elsewhere or they will have died.
I know the family photo will continue to change through the years. It’s important to cherish your family while they are still here. You never know when they’ll leave a gap in the family photo.