I love this picture. I love looking at the details. The glass Coke bottle under the man’s chair. Two ashtrays with as many ashes on the floor around them as there is in them. The 1950‘s argyle socks. The little boy’s foot on the chair in front of him. Did it bother that teenager who seems to be keeping to himself? What is the girl on the front row showing to her friends on either side of her? The boy looking right at the camera. And all that Brylcream in the guys’ hair! I’m not sure what the event was; maybe a school event or play.
This is a snapshot of one moment in many people’s lives. Where did they go from there?
As to the boy almost center frame looking at the camera, that is Tony. He grew up, got married, had a daughter and two sons. He always encouraged and served others with gentleness and a great sense of humor. He worked hard, owned a restaurant for a while, and eventually gave his daughter in marriage to me. For this I am forever grateful. Six months after he walked his daughter down the aisle of the church, we pushed his casket down the aisle.
His mother is sitting next to him in the photo and she loved playing with her great grandchildren, including Macayla & Jacob. She made pound cake that was out of this world and sweet tea that will certainly be at the banquet table in heaven. She is already there, sitting at that table with Tony as she died a couple of years ago.
Her husband, Ned, is sitting next to her in the photo and he is spry and full of spunk. He is a passionate man who used to sell real estate and didn’t like anything with melted cheese in it. He smiles a lot. His laughter is contagious. He was just diagnosed with cancer. It is in his lungs and brain. The prognosis is that he will be going Home soon as the cancer is inoperable.
Bobby, the little boy on Ned’s lap, now has his own family with grown sons who have started their families. They like motorcycles and he married one of the sweetest women on the planet. He, like his father and brother, has a great sense of humor and loves to serve others.
To remember the loss of loved ones in a photo is painful and sad in many ways, of course, but there is much to celebrate as well. Bobby and Ned are still with us. Tony may not have changed the world, but he changed my world by sharing the love of Christ with me. He shared this with many people. His influence set my life and my family’s life on a new trajectory. On the evening this photo was taken, Ned and Lennie, or Nanny and Papa as we called them, had no idea of the impact their little family would have.
Today is a snapshot for us all. What we do is important. Our choices have eternal significance in ways we can scarcely imagine. Long after we have breathed our last, ripples from our life will be felt by others. Ripples from not only the things we did, but the things we neglected to do. Ripples from a life focused on one’s self are very different from the ripples of a life that focused on Christ and others first.
If someone, saw a snapshot of us sixty years from now, what would they remember about us? Did we live for ourselves or others? Were we a joy or a pain to those in our lives? Did we reflect Christ in all those snapshots of daily life?
I have a friend, actually, a brother who was just diagnosed with a brain tumor. I say brother, but not because we have any DNA in common; but because of the common blessings and struggles we have been through. I say brother because the same blood covers us both, the blood of Christ. With the discovery of this tumor, he faces new and frightening territory. But he certainly has much to celebrate. I’ve known him for ten years and the snapshots that come to my mind are of a man who serves others and Christ, even when he doesn’t feel like it. I see snapshots of great humor and great conviction. I see snapshots of a man who loves his family immensely and challenges me to be a better husband and father. I see snapshots of great compassion.
The snapshots keep coming from my brother’s life; snapshots that challenge the rest of us to keep things in perspective. Snapshots of joy even in the midst of pain. Snapshots that remind us all to keep the main thing the main thing. Snapshots of the immense power of grace in the life of one who follows Christ. Keep it up, bro!
What snapshots were taken of us today?