There it was again. The worst picture I have ever had taken showed up in the newspaper with my column (hopefully as you read this, my regular photo is back).
For three weeks, I have endured teasing from readers about the photo, with some folks thinking the picture is not even me. Thank you to those who did not think it was me.
However, the picture is a reminder of a story.
Eighteen years ago, one of my college buddies buried her mother following a long illness. It was seven years before I lost my father, so I did not really know the impact of burying a parent, but I listened sympathetically to her grieve and rehash memories of her mother.
One comment reverberated in my head.
My friend, Nancy, said before ending our phone conversation: “Hug your mother. No, really – hug your mother.”
And so, I did what writers do when the Muse takes over: I wrote an article that was published in the Observer. An Observer photographer came to my house and took a photo just after I finished cutting the grass.
The photo was terrible, but the article got the message across. We never know when someone close to us will not be here, so we must not waste time. Spend time with whomever is important to you and hug your mother or father, brother, sister, son, daughter, best friend.
The old photo made me realize how time has passed. Recent events also have been reminders that the clock ticks slowly and softly, but steadily.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I attended a 25th wedding anniversary dinner for one of his childhood friends. As my husband and his friend, Gray, discussed childhood memories, yesteryear seemed a long time ago.
Then, we got an invitation to attend our next door neighbors' 50th wedding anniversary dessert reception at the Shannamara clubhouse. In this day and age of so many divorces, 50 years of marriage is quite an accomplishment.
The invitation reminded me of when we met our neighbors, Bill and Willie Hankins. We had moved into our new house in Stallings with our two young daughters. Unlike us, Bill and Willie were retired with no kids at home. I remember asking Bill if it had bothered him that our daughters would play basketball in our driveway at night. I didn't want the noise to be bothersome.
He looked at me and said, “We have four grown daughters and a lot of grandchildren. We love the sound of children playing.” Eleven years have passed since we moved into our house. During that time, our neighbors who began as strangers became our friends.
Last week, I celebrated another birthday – not a monumental birthday, but a birthday nonetheless. I joked with people that having a birthday was better than the alternative.
A birthday and its numerous candles are reminders that the calendar moves along. As I try to read a calendar, I know that reading glasses are in my near future, but I will resist as long as possible. I will focus on the friends who gathered at Dorian's in Matthews for my birthday lunch.
We laughed and reminisced over plates of chicken salad. Ah, this is what the passing of time is all about – friends and memories.
And so two anniversary invitations, a birthday and an ugly photo come together like pages in a scrapbook collecting the value in years.
Hug your mother; celebrate with neighbors; have lunch with friends.
Hmmm, I need to rewind our grandfather clock, as it has stopped ticking. We have had it for many years, a wedding gift from Bill, my late grandfather-in-law. He found the old clock in an abandoned warehouse, realizing how poignant a gift it would make. A grandfather gives a grandfather clock to his grandson.
The parts of the clock were in a shoebox that had to be reconstructed by a clockmaker. This clock, a German Bim-Bam, ticks softly and steadily with a subtle chime on the half hour. I think Bill knew the value in restoring something old, as it reminds us of the slow ticking of time.