My whole family has an odd affinity for old fashioned lives. Any Somerville get-together is marked by the tappity-tap of typewriters, scattered piles of vintage suitcases and scarves, and any number of thrift shop finds given a second life.
It wasn’t a surprise then, when my littlest sister Mawney brought an old Pentax camera on our recent trip to Bobcaygeon, Ontario. It used film ( real film!) And when she finally found a place to develop said film, she sent me some of the pictures.
They were photos of photos, so they were a bit blurry and grainy, but when I got them I sat there for about ten minutes just poring through them over and over.
This is it. This, right here.
This, more than anything, is what I hope Olive learns from me. Your family is everything. Family by blood, marriage, or simply a ragtag group of friends that serves as one – it doesn’t matter. They are everything.
Having a full, beautiful life begins and ends with supporting, loving, respecting, and trusting these people right here.
I’ve always wanted to have a family of my own ever since I can remember, and this is why. Family has always been my safe haven, a soft place to land, a country populated by people who know me better than I know myself .
There are entire listfulls of things I want to teach this feisty, intelligent, kind-hearted daughter of mine – the importance of honesty, even when it’s hard. The value of loyalty and respect. The underrated necessity of humour; clever, witty, and dry.
I want to teach her what I have learned: To weather storms with grace, to forgive, to know yourself. To constantly focus on creation, in any form which brings you joy.
But I also want to teach her things that I’m not very good at, yet. Letting go. Not overthinking. Letting the wild side of life lure you in and swallow you whole… Even just for a few months.
This is where family comes in. They will teach her what I can’t. They will fill in the blanks of my knowledge, underscore what I’ve tried to write on her heart.
They are living examples of the life I want her to chase until her legs ache, these wild, wonderful, passionate people.
It’s more than keeping up with phone calls, remembering birthdays, or writing letters (though that’s a part of it), it’s knowing deep in your bones that these are your people and treating them as such.
Their lives are your life, so you stay up to date. Their kids are your kids, so you take care of them and comfort them like you would your own. Their heartbreaks are your heartbreaks, so you put them back together again as gently as you would yourself.
And, of course, their humiliations are yours, too, so you point them out and laugh and laugh and keep laughing until they are able to let go of the hurt and remember how to laugh at themselves.
I don’t know how I ended up so lucky with these people, my people. I’ve learned to trust and to remember and to make fun of myself before someone can beat me to the punch.
I’ve learned to love unconditionally, to give generously, and to trust my gut, because it got me here, and there’s no where I’d rather be.
I love these photos far more than I thought I would, these grainy, blurry snapshots of a week together.
Because, this is it. Do you see?