When the Camera Met Astro

There’s always that first time a new loved one meets my camera.

Or is it really my camera meeting them? I always seem to capture the moments exactly as they fall into place, sort of the way it always works out. Instinct. Technique. More of one than the other. Self-doubt. Pure emotion. I can’t say that I’ve been really up on myself with photography or writing lately. Sometimes it’s hard for me and sometimes it isn’t. It’s just that there’s so much perspective and emotion crammed into blog posts and photographs, no matter how wide the bandwidth and how large the format. I only took phone photos the day we got Astro because I was focused on keeping the surprise under wraps and holding a wiggly puppy for a three hour car ride. Not that it wasn’t pure bliss. I shouldn’t have been worried.

We spent a few days, and then weeks, getting to know each other. He has started puppy class and he’s tried to chew our entire house. We’ve had some user-error-induced house breaking accidents, but we’re learning the way and so is he. He brightens my day. I’ve been so tired since we got him – just flat-out exhausted at the end of the day. I was already so bad at balancing parenting and personal/social life and work and writing/photography for fun. Then you throw a puppy into the mix and the fact that he has to be watched or crated when I’m working. Yet, sometimes he’s just the brightest star in my sky.

And the best part of my day. Pure unconditional affection. He doesn’t cower like Athena, act like too much of a cat like Junie (the cat), break my heart like humans, and cause Salmonella like the chickens. I can just scoop him up, day after day, moment after moment – sometimes letting tears drip down his fur. He’s perfect and new. And he smells good. And he’s fluffy – although changing color every day. Not to mention, will we EVER know what kind of dog he is? Maybe. Probably not.

So that’s my story for you, and it’s one of love and newness and how the emotions spill out into words and then spill out into photos and somehow with spoken words and written words and photographs, other people get a bit of an idea of it all.

So this is my photo story for you:

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is Photo Share Friday And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin: HERE. What’s your photo? What’s its story?

He’s pretty irresistible, isn’t he?

Hey Now, Hey Now, Don’t Dream It’s Over

My dad’s Facebook status on Sunday: “On their wedding day June 24, 1945. Would have been 73 years a week from now. Mom passed May 24th at 92 and Dad passed yesterday June 16th at 94. Their love was so strong they refused to be apart”

I remember my grandfather's 80th birthday party. We had it at my parent's farm and back then, there were more great aunts and uncles alive and thriving.

14 years in the blink of an eye.

I remember my grandfather’s 80th birthday party. We had it back at my parent’s farm and back then, there were more great aunts and uncles alive and pretty thriving. I tell this story all the time – to my friends, to this blog, and even to the cashier at the co-op. It needs to be told: It was Poppa Joe’s 80th birthday and we were setting up his cake. My great uncle Milt, then 90, said: “He’s so lucky to be only 80. He still has so much life to look forward to.” I remember nudging one of my siblings and saying, “See that? 80 is the new 21.” I was 23/24 at the time, and felt positively ancient. I wasn’t.

I have a complicated grandparents relationship, which is definitely why I get weird about my kids and their six grandparents. On one hand, I want them to be as youthful and exuberant as they are now – pretty much forever. It’s like I think I have control over it. They’re porcelain figurines on a shelf and I’d get upset if you tarnished even one part of one of them. Sadly, they are all tarnished. We are all tarnished. On the other hand, I hold them to high standards. I don’t like when they flake out or push me too far or pull away from us. It’s like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Too much, too little, just right.

I remember my grandfather's 80th birthday party. We had it at my parent's farm and back then, there were more great aunts and uncles alive and thriving.

I had 7 grandparents – sort of. I had my father’s parents, who somehow thought after he died that they were no longer my grandparents. FALSE. And I had my mother’s parents and they were far away. Both passed away within the last six years, two years apart at age 100, and it was hard and weird and stilted. I don’t know how good I really am with grief. I feel so broken and cracked. We don’t know as much about my dad’s first wife’s father. Her mother outlived her by decades and for the last decade of her life, I didn’t have much to do with her. We sometimes came to terms with each other in my teen years, but mostly butted heads. I’m not proud of that – it is what it is. My dad’s parents are the ones above – only days gone.

When we were little kids, we saw each other a lot and we were in each other’s lives. I remember her 60th birthday – but I can’t remember if my parents were married yet. Were we party guests only, or was the party in our house? I regret not really knowing them for the last decade. My sister said she gets sad to think of us as little kids and I get sad too – we had so much promise ahead of us. Grieving and fatherless and following the lead of the sometimes broken, sometimes whole adults. Everybody had a weight on their shoulders and a cross to bear. My grandmother died on May 24th – the day we got Astro.

Three weeks later, her husband died too – as if called by her. They had an amazing love story. They knew each other as young kids and were almost married for 73 years. My older brother and I agreed it was a magical love story. Poppa Joe was an interesting man – everything that came out of his mouth was pure brilliance. I don’t know if I grieve for the man I didn’t know well, for the one I did, for my dad, or for myself as a little kid looking up to any strong male role models. I thinks it’s all of the above. It’s all over now and all I can really do is cry in my car and continue to make sure my kids know their six grandparents as fully as possible, while keeping us all sane, of course. Sometimes we have to bend, but that’s ok.

I’m good at bending. And I think they are too.

Today is the last day of school, and boy, what a year. Kindergarten for Des and third grade for Scarlet. She said she wouldn’t be able to sleep because she was so nervous. Her class was something special – her teacher was an angel on earth and her classmates all supported each other. People noticed it. It sucks that they have to be mixed up and put back together in jumbled pieces in a new classroom with a new teacher and new friends. I think it sucks even more to not have these chances. I believe in the strength and kindness of my kids and I believe it can be a good thing. Same with first grade for Des.

How the heck can it all be over?

Do you have complicated relationships with grief and with grandparents too?