Wednesday, February 17, 2010

ashes, forehead, hands, hope

I sat with my father tonight and showed him photos from his wedding that he hasn't seen in over 50 years. I brought my laptop to the nursing home and placed it in front of him and said I had a surprise for him. He was a bit baffled by my mac and rambled with questions about how much something like this costs and how often do I use it and what do I use it for. I knew modern technology was impressive, but I knew what was about to unfold was far more impressive. I turned off the tv, slid my chair beside him, and popped open the screen. There before him was a striking photo of my mother staring at herself in a mirror--beautiful red hair, porcelain pale skin, gorgeous white wedding dress.

I asked, "do you remember this woman? Do you remember this day?"

All I can say is that the smile that took over his face took over my heart. I saw the "in love" glow that radiated in his face in those photos from 54 years ago. He gazed at the screen, at my mother, at the woman whom he affectionately *calls to this day* his BW: beautiful wife.

"I know her and I do remember this day."

I could honestly go on for hours about how beautiful this interaction was with him...but it was the observations that I made of him and he made of the photos that are most noteworthy. I showed him how to use the arrow key to move on to the next picture, and I watched his finger rest for minutes on the key before he pressed and moved from photo to photo. As he took in each photograph, it was as though he was taking in the moment itself.

"Maura, half of the people in these photos are dead...your mother is the most beautiful woman I know...look at my father, and my mother and my brothers...I had hair back then...look at your Aunt as a platinum blonde...only my one brother and I are left....I won't be around much longer, Maura...God bless you for showing me these..."

I am in awe of the love my father feels for my mother. After all that they have been through, his eyes have only seen her, his lips have only known her lips, his heart has only loved her. Nothing got in the way of that love but some hard bumps of life and when those smoothed out, they found how to love each other in the most pure, honest way possible. 56 years of loving the same person, without fail.

My father gave me hope this evening...hope that if I can see a love this deep, I may also experience it someday within my own heart.

After I packed up my mac, I kissed his forehead and almost smudged the ashes that mark his faith. He grabbed my hand. He didn't say anything, nor did I. But I could feel everything in his hand.

Hope is a damn powerful thing.