Friday, January 9, 2009

My Brother's Photos of My Wedding

On a late 2008 visit to my sister-in-law Belinda's house, Craig and I checked out Tim's junk room - Belinda has made a number of very nice changes to the house in the last couple of years but understandably, opening the door to their spare room and going through the piles of Tim stuff has not been her highest or easiest priority since my brother's death in 2005. However, B. has made great strides in the Tim room, and a lot of what's left can be hauled away without much sorting. While we were there Craig took out several piles of magazines and newspapers to the recycle bin. He also moved things around enough that B. could get to the closet in the room. She said that in later years, even Tim had lost access to the closet (he used to have a special pathway he had carved through the room) and he started keeping his clothes in another room. The closet itself seemed organized and mostly held clothes (lots of white tee shirts on hangers), but Craig and I were laughing at the huge stack inside the closet of giveaway drink cups, I guess from baseball games. I yell at Craig when he brings those home because they are ugly, in the dishwasher they turn upside down and fill with water, and our cabinet is already full of (real) glassware. Craig said I can't complain about him anymore, having seen this huge stash of plastic cups.

Tim took lots of photos over the years, but I saw few of them, because he got behind on getting them distributed to people...sometimes didn't even get his film developed. He organized them (in paper grocery bags) according to his own system that wouldn't make sense to other people. Many of the photos seem to be of things that wouldn't be of interest to anyone but Tim - architectural details of hotels he stayed at, etc. They aren't great photos, but Tim enjoyed taking them.

Belinda had mentioned she came across photos of my wedding, and I asked her to save those for me. Then she lost them again in the room, but Craig happened to find them during our visit. Taken in 1997, I don't think I had ever seen them before. There were some wonderful photos in that group - I ended up making a special photo album with them. My wedding was the first time most of us had seen my nephew Adam - my brother Dave and his wife waited to make the trip from Detroit until Adam had started on solid food. About 90% of the shots include Adam, our family's first grandson.

I had forgotten how easily he went to strangers as a baby - it seemed that everyone had a chance to hold him, and he perched calmly in their arms, looking around, with his solemn, curious Adam look. I didn't have much time to spend with Adam (or any relatives) at the wedding so it is special for me to have this behind-the-scenes view of things - lots of candid shots. Craig and I look rather tense, but everyone else looks very happy. I can't overstate our feeling that it honor for us to have had a wedding event that so many wonderful people attended and enjoyed. It is funny to view other young relatives in their very early years, and it is poignant to see relatives now in their late 70s and early 80s looking so mobile and energetic, in 1997.

Here are 2 of my favorite photos from the album - Adam with Tim, and Adam with my sister Rachel, looking especially beautiful.

Beyond the happy glow of finding the photos, I had a fresh shot of grief and loss - I guess it was a feeling of sorrow that things concerning me were being discarded from the Tim room. Of course it's not that I think Belinda should keep the room as-is forever or even that she should keep 100 photos of my wedding (I'd prefer to keep them myself) - but losing Tim also meant losing the family stockpile of childhood artifacts (toys, old books, etc.) and the family stockpiler (Tim himself). More importantly, Tim was the memory repository of our childhood. As the oldest one of us and the one with the least clouded (as in, negative) memories of growing up in Tomball, Tim had a comprehensive recollection of our early years as a family...also Tomball as a town, the Tomball schools, our Tomball church, etc.

It must have been something about Tim's camera lighting - and our wedding venue had light peach walls and faintly yellow lighting - but Tim's photos all have a golden glow. It's more than camera or room lights, though... For example, little Adam glowed with health and intelligence. (His mother reminds me that even as a preteen he has never become shy with strangers - he is curious about people and open to most conversations.) So many photos taken of Tim in years since the wedding show chemo or radiation damage to his hair, face or neck - he remained a handsome man, but the photos remind you of his illness. My sister Rachel had concerns, due to her weight gain, about what to wear for the wedding weekend, but every time I saw her...and when I look at her now...she was beautiful, in hair, makeup, accessories and spirit.

The Tim album also has many shots of my dad holding Adam, charmed and grinning as Adam carefully touches Grandpa's boutonniere. We Scholls don't often show bright emotions like joy on our faces - when we do, it is almost startling to observe, like the vulnerable look we have without our glasses...which always makes me think of a crustacean, unshelled.

P.S. Belinda also found found a cassette tape I had sent Tim with "our song" for the wedding, Elton John's, "The One." Tim, our wedding pianist, wasn't sure he knew the song so Craig and I copied our album for him to practice from. Tim had left my yellow post-it instruction note on the cassette all these years. "Tim - can you please rehearse The One for our wedding? Thanks, S. Hope you guys had a good trip!"

I don't remember where he and Belinda had gone that year. I wish Tim wasn't gone today.

No comments: