This weekend we celebrated my parents’ 45th anniversary. As part of the surprise, I was recruited to create a slideshow of pictures. In May, I started sneaking the family photo albums out of my mom’s house, until I was caught red-handed in June and had to make an excuse about how my kids were asking to see their wedding pictures. In July, I’d received information that my parents would be out of the house for 3 hours at a birthday party. I decided to go all out, packed up my laptop and scanner, and decided to upload photos in their home. When they came back an hour earlier than planned, I still was able to avert suspicion somehow. I wanted the final product to be 10 minutes, but was willing to settle on my 13 minute runtime when the the first draft clocked in close to 20.
While a considerable time investment, I am glad I took on this task. I treasure many of these pictures. I am proud of the end result. My wife was in charge of the decorations and created over a dozen gorgeous wildflower arrangements for the tables. She said, “I think in another life, I could have been really happy being a florist.” I will echo her sentiment; there was something very satisfying about trying to convey the spirit of our family, hearing the music compliment the narrative well, knowing that many tears would be shed. Indeed, several of the Arnold men confessed to a few tears brimming in their eyes, and they ratted out my two oldest brothers Adam and Christian as getting quite emotional. When I confronted Adam about this, he explained that “those were the tears leaping off of Christian onto me.”
My favorite moment while watching the slideshow came with a photo of my little sister Mary holding my baby brother Daniel, while my dad watches over them. It is a candid shot, taken from a distance, not interrupting the moment. When the photo came up, my niece Gracie exclaimed, “It’s you and me, Dad!”
Yes, it is, Gracie. Because as I sorted my way through pictures, I was most struck by how time has flown by in a blur, and now begun to repeat itself. An early idea I had that I had to discard was juxtaposing pictures of the past and present-my dad with two kids on his shoulders / my brother Mark attempting to hold his 5 children…and wife. Christian and Paul playing in the horse tank with Jamie and Zach / Jude and Gus playing in the horse tank with Phillip and Peter. This was one of the greatest gifts my parents gave us-they filled our lives with love and provided us with an example of how we should love our own children. They gave us family.