When I was seventeen I wanted to be a photographer. I didn't even own a camera.
My fella was in the navy stationed overseas and on the day of my high school graduation I opened a delivery package shipped from Japan with a Canon AE-1 camera in it - with a love note telling me I could be anything I wanted to be.
I felt special. I felt loved. I might have been the happiest girl in the whole USA. Quick - who sings that song?
I loved that camera.
I never learned how to properly use it and so my pictures were always overexposed or underexposed or other fancy photog words.
But I remember the feel of it in my hands.
I remember how it felt to wind it and how the click of the shutter button sounded. There was a rewind button and you pulled it up and turned it and the back of the camera popped open. And when it popped I felt important. Feeding the film in and getting it just right on the teeth made me feel like a professional - even if the pictures of the flamingos at the zoo didn't look professional and even though I sometimes opened the back and exposed the whole roll of film.
I stood in a really long line to register for junior college two months later and when it was my turn all the photography classes were full. They were full for three semesters and by then my dreams had changed - and so had my fella.
When I was pregnant with Delia He's Too Good To Me gave me a camera on Mother's Day. I think I probably cried cause I cried alot then, and I remember wanting him to learn how to use it and then show me cause by then I was already in love with the idea of him taking care of me.
In 2000 I had just started taking some professional photos and tinting them when a drunk driver forgot to turn his lights on and hit us hard. The left side of my face was broken and for so many years I couldn't close my left eye to use my right eye for the viewfinder. And I can't wink with my right eye, so that was that . . .
On my birthday last year he surprised me with my first digital camera - with all the whistles and bells.
At least I thought he gave it to me.
She's my baby girl and is four years from seventeen and she already is a photographer.
And isn't it joy to see one of your dreams take life in your child? I wasn't good enough, but she is.
There was more than one thing missing in my dream, and one of them was seeing - something you have to be born with - I wasn't - she was - a good eye.She sees.
She's gifted. Some things are gifts. One can learn to use a camera but not everyone can see what needs to be taken.
She doesn't want to be a photographer when she grows up.
But maybe one day she'll stand in a very long line and the only classes open will be photography classes. Maybe then she will know that dreams change.
But maybe not.
This is a love note from your daddy and me that you can be anything you want to be - take any road you want to take.
Yes - each time I notice it when I don't hold it together.
I notice it in a messy home.
I notice it in a laundry room overflowing and a van needing to be cleaned out and plants dying on the front porch.
It's in a kitchen not stocked and a child not being schooled and a husband not being loved.
It's everywhere when I don't hold it together.
Children fight instead of play and love and even the dog lies lonely in the corner and I lie awake in the dark and despair.
It's everywhere when I don't hold it together. Cause when Mama doesn't function the world seems to stop spinning order and just slings chaos. I see the way they look at one another and hear the whispers so why doesn't someone just come on out and say -
Mama's not holding it together.
It's falling apart. That's what it is. And it's everywhere when I have days that I feel shook up. Like a syndrome that shatters.
Like a three day migraine but this is the fourth day of not holding it together and where is a migraine when you need one? I could count it as excuse but excuse is only that I'm refusing grace and accepting despair tied in a knotted black ribbon.
I'm late for the Pooh movie - cause I forgot the Pooh movie - the only one I wanted to see in the summer showings. When I come in Sandra has bought my tickets and saved my seats and listens when I complain before I ever even say hello. Maybe I never said hello?
And then a stranger shows me grace and I don't even think she knew it or intended it but just like I used the buttons on his shirt for an impromtu math lesson my gentle Father uses this stranger to remind me that He catches every fall - every one.
I place my order in the drive-thru and she tells me $9.79 and I have a five and three ones and a dollar in change. And no card. I'm looking for my card and Izzy's digging for change and I'm looking for my card - the one I still can't find - and I'm remembering that I read somewhere, can't remember where, that only amateurs rush. I remember hating that when I read it and I'm looking and thinking only amateurs rush when she rolls her eyes and asks me
Is that nine dollars?
Yes, but I'm trying to find my card.
Here. Just take it. Nine's fine.
There was no smile from her, no poor lady she's having a really bad day look on her face. No sympathy - just move the line along.
And I take the bag and wonder if I'll make it home before I cry cause my darlins' will think there's something wrong and there is something wrong but not what they'll think.
Cause now it's shame. Because it is grace that is everywhere and my Father has a way out all around me and just like Elijah when touched by an angel God shows me that he indeed does care about my struggles and loves me deeply.He loves me and He is saying she's having a bad day and He whispers a sweet love story to me.
And I listen. And I ask for courage and faith. And maybe just a little bit of that sweet life in the hundred acre woods?