Monday, July 7, 2008

It was worth it for this picture

My OLDER brother, Bradley (everyone else calls him "Brad," but I like the nasally sound of Bra-ad-lee in a little sister kind of voice) and I took an amazing adventure together over Father's Day weekend.

My parents were estranged from their families most of my brother's and my lives. Therefore, we didn't know much about the Reeses or Larsens. Throughout the passing of both of my parents I made a connection with my cousin Pat, and we've intermittently kept in touch via email. Pat is about 15 years older than me - the oldest cousin in our generation - and has been a family historian and genealogist for 40+ years. Brad and I decided we need to know more about the Reese side of our family and spent about 24 hours in Asheville, North Carolina learning more in that time about our roots than our respective 45 and 46 years on earth.

For the first time in my live I visited graves of family members. Pat shared all of her "documentation" that she has collected including government records, family photos, and stories that have been written down. We toured the church my parents were married in and had an incredible flashback walking through Hendersonville, North Carolina's "Curb Market" where my mother and I would escape to when visiting family. She would buy me corn shuck dolls and herself dried flowers. It smelled and looked exactly the same, and yes, I bought a corn shuck doll.

The trip was worth it for one picture, however. I gasped as I was clawing through a pile of my Dad's documentation folder. I had never seen my parents so beautiful or so happy. My guess is this was taken either on their honeymoon or right after getting engaged.

Mom and Dad died relatively young in excruciating ways to watch. Avid smokers for all of their lives, images of respirators, oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, nursing homes and hospice are the legacies I had in my head after their deaths in May 2005 and May 2006. While trying to care for them from afar, I spent almost 2 years burning up the roads between Knoxville, TN and Paducah dealing with issues no one should have to deal with. At one point a doctor actually said to me on the phone, "well, if your Dad is not any better when I get back from vacation in 10 days, we'll have to talk about unplugging stuff." Nice.

I can't explain how that crap flew out of the window when I held this picture in my hand. Pat scanned it and sent it a few days after our visit. I immediately emailed to family friends who, too, were amazed. I think they look like movie stars. Many have commented that my Dad looked like George Clooney.

I am just thankful they look so young and in love.