While waiting for my sister to walk down the aisle last summer, I let my two-year-old play with my camera. It was hot and things got a late start so I was desperate for a distraction.
Later as I went through the pictures of that evening, I came across the one above. It’s both my grandmas. My mom’s mom and my dad’s mom. Together, sitting patiently, waiting for the bride to walk down the aisle.
I spent what felt like hours staring at this picture. In the midst of shot-after-shot of my abdomen and the trees, here was this beautiful gem. This moment of time, perfectly shot, taken by a toddler. Both my wonderful grandmas, sitting still (which they never do), and next to each other.
I feel like Harper caught something momentous. This moment of Ritter-Keaton convergence. This picture of hands that represent so much more.
Those hands are where I come from. Where my sister and brother come from. Where my parents come from. It’s where we started and what holds us together.
Those hands are more familiar to me than my own. They raised babies and grandbabies. Harvested food, weeded gardens, made my stuffed animals and Easter dresses. They birthed my parents, raised my parents, loved my parents as best they could.
Those hands are who I am. They represent love and sacrifice, patience and commitment.
But there is hurt and pain and disappointment and regret in those hands too. And that makes them all the more real and all the more important.
I don’t know when the exact moment was, but at some point, my grandparents crossed over from mythical creatures that let us get away with too much as children to real, breathing, flawed, amazing people. From distant memories of my youth, to parts of my whole.
This picture haunts me. It’s what I want my kids to remember about my grandparents, their great-grandparents. It tells so much about them; my Grandma Reba with her jewelry and knobby, arthritic hands, her purse (oh, how she loves purses!). My Grandma Betty with her weathered skin from years working in her garden, caning food that still feeds my family, her petite, frail body just now starting to slow her down.
I try not to think about the moments that will come soon. Eventually I will have to say goodbye to these matriarchs of my family. They’re getting older and the circle of life is real and tangible. My babies know these women, these great-grandmas. They will feel their absence when they’re gone too. It will darken so many lives.
And I hope they know that. That their worth is unimaginable. That their influence is ever-lasting. They are my grandmas. I understand how lucky I am to still have them. To be a thirty-two-year-old woman with all four of her grandparents still alive. That novelty is not lost on me.
I hope it’s not lost on them either. How lucky we are to have them. To have had them in our lives. To have life from theirs.
Such a powerful picture from a two year old.