If you’ve read this magazine before, you probably know that the Dad’s View article is usually a bit silly, sometimes senseless and, sadly, occasionally a bit stupid. However, outside of this column, its pages hold powerful, emotional and meaningful stories about families dealing with, or overcoming, extraordinary circumstances. These articles are very real, very heartfelt, very raw, and very honest.
Kim Enderle, Peekaboo’s President, CEO, Editor in Chief and all-around awesome person, often asks me if I read these articles. This usually results in nervous shuffling on my part, coupled with no eye contact – sort of like when you ask your kids who broke the lamp, or when your dog tries to convince you she really didn’t snatch the leftover pizza off the counter. This is because, embarrassingly, I largely avoid the serious stories in favor of simply dealing you some dad drivel. Please don’t think of me as a horrible and emotionless soul. My problem is an inability to consume these tales, not an inability to care. Besides, if you asked any of my friends to give you a list of words that describe me, “serious” wouldn’t make the top 100. And, honestly (and thankfully), there hasn’t been much super-somber, sad, scary or solemn stuff happen in my life that would enable me to pen an article with a serious tone. Sure, there have been ups and downs during my trips around the sun, but, in any given year, the strikes have far outpaced the gutters. Until now.
The funny thing about getting older is that, while you are getting older, everyone else is too… including your parents. And, at some point, they reach the end, as my mother did this fall, at the age of 79. At this age, society tells us that death seems slightly more palatable then someone who passes at 39; and definitely more understandable than someone who leaves this world at 9. At least, that is what we tell ourselves, but if any of you have felt the sharp sting of loss, you know that’s not the case. Losing someone that has been in your life – for your entire life – is indescribable. A piece of you is now missing; you can physically feel that something is gone.
Prior to passing, my mother suffered from depression for 12 years. While that in itself is tragic, what is even worse is that she and my children mostly missed forming that special Grandma/grandchild bond. Our children are 16, 14 and 10. Therefore, the oldest only has vague memories of a spry, sassy and sometimes snarky Grandma Stephany. The other two have no recollection of their grandmother before she became ill. Until now.
Again, those of you that read the Dad’s View know my position on modern electronics. In my opinion, we would have been way better off if technology stopped somewhere between discovering fire and the invention of the wheel. Case in point, when putting together a slide show of my mother’s life to show during her visitation, we found very few printed pictures of her after 2005. Upon digging further, we found very few pictures of anyone after 2005. Hmmm, what happened around that time? Answer: The widespread use of digital cameras, followed by the great iThingy takeover. My computer is home to 15,000 picture files, but you’d be lucky to find 15 printed photos in my home, and I’d be lucky to actually find 15 meaningful shots out of the 15,000 sitting on my hard drive.
Thank God for film! Ah, yes, remember film? Remember getting photos in the little white envelopes with tiny negatives? Remember the mystery of what pictures you took or came out well? Remember family albums? Albums are the best, and, thankfully, my dad had a dozen of them dating back to the 1940s, and all the way up through the 90s. There were black and whites, photos of weddings, shots of long-passed great grandparents, images of long lost cousins, Christmas memories, terrifying fashion statements in the form of bell bottoms, mullets, peach colored tuxedos and gravity-defying hair, and, most importantly, pictures of my mom before depression stole the smile from her face and the fire from her soul. In those pictures, my children finally met Stephany Kay Lacy, a woman who loved playing golf and cards, worked hard, was perpetually late, had half a beer each day, talked louder than a freight train and faster than an airplane, smiled wider than the Cheshire Cat, had a fondness for selecting migraine-inducing carpet patterns, went sledding with her kids during the winter, had a living room with beautiful furniture that no one was allowed to sit on, shopped like it was an Olympic sport, cheered louder than a megaphone for her favorite team, and even once starred in my homemade Motley Crue lip-sync video. My kids were dumbfounded. Completely amazed. Who was this person full of life (and caffeine) that kinda looked like Grandma? For me, and also for my dad, this was incredible therapy and generated more than a few belly laughs and an ample supply of tears as we watched the kids truly meet their grandmother.
So, here’s my gift to you this Christmas. Print pictures. Print a lot of pictures. Print an annoyingly obnoxious amount of pictures. Save them. Share them. Put them in albums; I checked, Walmart still carries them. There’s nothing wrong with taking a bajillion shots on your iPhone and posting regularly on Facebook, but don’t just count on the engineering genius of Steve (Jobs of Apple) and Mark (Zuckerberg of Facebook) to preserve your most precious memories. Pictures, like your loved ones, are best when you are able to hold them.