R.J. and I moved into our current home about 6 years ago. It was a huge step for us, not because it was our first home, but because it was designed and built by R.J.’s grandfather. It was the only home his grandparents owned as a married couple. R.J.’s father and uncle were raised in this home. So was R.J. for several years.
So it was important to us that we buy it and fix it. It had been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair. Not so bad that we couldn’t live in it while we fixed it, but it was going down hill fast. Plus I like to fix things – I gave up on fixing people a few years ago.
This is a great house. There’s plenty of goofy things about it. For instance both bathrooms are side by side on the main floor. We can’t open the floor to ceiling windows in our living room that looks directly into our neighbors front yard. I could go on and on and on, but there’s really no point.
The point is that it is a great house and it is awesome that we were able to keep it in the family. It is something that I am extremely grateful for even though I was never able to meet the man who designed and built it.
Until I started scanning his photos. You see R.J.’s grandfather was a prolific photographer and when we moved in we inherited all of his equipment, negatives, slides and photographs. I knew they needed to be scanned in order to preserve them, but it wasn’t a priority when we moved in.
Plus they were in the dark, stinky, dingy basement, ugh!
I found myself with some time on my hands last year as we hadn’t started renovating the kitchen or the basement so I brought out the scanner and the photo albums. They were the most bulky so I thought it would be good to be able to get rid of them first.
In those albums were a record of every trip R.J.’s grandparents ever took – they loved Las Vegas! But there was also a record of every project his grandfather ever started on the house. There was even a record of the house being built!
I wish I could say I would have been excited if the man himself had shown them to me, but probably not. It’s amazing what we take for granted, but time I think is something we take most for granted.
Now though I get to see things through his eyes. What he thought was important, beautiful, and amazing. The pictures he took of his wife are the most telling. He like to take pictures of her as she was walking or smelling flowers. It was easy to see how much he loved her.
The depth of his love for her is something I would have never known if I hadn’t started scanning those pictures.
He also took pictures of every other family member who would sit still long enough! He loved taking pictures. He took pictures right up until the year he died, and for that I’m grateful. Sure R.J. and his family tell me stories about him and his grandma told me things before she died, but he didn’t become a real person to me until we moved into this house and I started looking at his photographs.
Then I began to understand and appreciate that everyone has a story to tell. Some tell it with words, some tell it with pictures, some tell it with video or song, but everyone – even the most quiet, shy, introverted person – has a story to tell. And how much better would it be to be able to listen to that story while the person is telling it instead of after they are gone.
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