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Do me a favor and pretend you’ve died.
(Forgive for the abrupt start. The hospital chaplain in me is not only comfortable contemplating death, but I find it a great exercise to recalibrate, to make sure you’re focusing on the right things in your life.
You know it already: so much of what you will build and buy during your life will fade away.
Memories will last, the love you share will last—but it what form?)
If you’re still with me I know you’re brave. So let’s continue: imagine you’ve died…
It’s Christmas after you’re gone. Or maybe your birthday. Maybe the anniversary of your passing. Your children and grandchildren are talking about you, and yearning for the glow of your presence. They start talking about the first time you took them to feed the chickadees in the snowy woods. Your daughter remembers there was a delightful photo of you with a chickadee landing on your head!
Where is that photo?
Did she only post it on Facebook? Or was it her brother who did that? She starts to scroll then remembers he closed his account.
Maybe it’s still on her phone! But, oh, she got a new phone last year.
Did she back it up on the cloud? Hmmm… what’s the password for that?
You can see where I’m going with this.
Let’s start again:
Imagine your grandson says to his mother that he remembers how you made the best voices while reading Charlotte’s Web. From where they sit they turn to see a photograph of such a moment on the wall above the couch. You have both grandkids giggling like mad on your lap, as your exaggerated expression brings the characters to life. They feel your joy glowing at them from the wall. In fact, this kind of moment, this continued relationship with your memory, is part of their daily life because of the portraits living on the walls of their home.
When your granddaughter reminisces about collecting seashells at sunrise on the Cape, your daughter steps over to the bookshelf and opens the album from that family trip. Although many years have passed, the photograph of your hand cradling a live scallop transports her. She hears your delighted exclamations about what you’ve found.
They turn the page to see you and your spouse dancing—as if newlyweds—on the patio that evening. The sight teaches them still what true love and commitment is about.
This album is a time machine. It’s your legacy.
It’s a collection of hand-held memories that cannot be lost or degraded as technology changes (ever save a photo on a zip drive or CD?).
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But when is a good time to create meaningful, lasting portraits? Photographs that are wall worthy, not just iphone wallpaper worthy.
Your schedule opens up?
You lose 10 pounds?
The yard is fully landscaped?
Your son’s awkward haircut has grown out?
Your spouse loses their forced photo-smile? (leave the natural smile-making to me!)
You have your dream home?
You feel time slipping through your fingers but you don’t prioritize the one thing that can stop time.
In fact, many of the Legacy Sessions I do—my name for multi-generational family photographs—have been prompted by illness. Only then do you take action to preserve what is fleeting.
Great Grandpa had a stroke. By the grace of God he recovered well, and I’ll get the call to do a session quick, in case he’s not as fortunate next time.
Grandma will be starting chemo soon, so let’s capture the vibrancy she has today.
Often, scary moments are what prompt you to reach out and schedule your family portraits. And that’s OK. I’m with you as your share the rush of awareness that life is precious.
But, life is precious every day. Truly.
Here are some other reasons that you should do a Legacy Session…
It’s a holiday and everyone will be together already.
That’s right now. This is the perfect time to book your Legacy Session for the upcoming holidays. You’ve already done half the work by planning a holiday gathering.
While everyone is together for Thanksgiving or December holidays, invite me over so that I can make that shot of everyone piling on the couch into something beautiful this year (it’ll take a few painless minutes—promise).
Then I’ll fade to the background as Grandma sets the table with her mother’s silverware, and Dad tosses brussel sprouts across the counter into little Johnny’s mouth—“score!” Whatever sweetness and antics unfold will become treasures.
Moments big and small can be preserved, and can be gifted to your family over and over again, even after you’re gone.
Reach out to grab one of my Thanksgiving weekend slots.
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