Take a Picture

Around Memorial Day the whole family was a little down.  We were all looking back and remembering where we were two years ago.  If you’ve been reading the blog, you know that Memorial Day of 2019 is when we found out Kramer, my husband, only had weeks to live.  He ended up dying on June 2nd, so in all honesty, we had from Tuesday to Sunday in the wee hours of the morning.

What has been comforting to us all is seeing pictures.  Sadly, most of the pictures we have of Kramer are from when he was sick.  Here he’s cuddling Carver.  You can see he has his “cough” pillow on his other side.

Here he’s holding Gannon, but it was from when he was sick.  He was starting to not look as well.

Kramer HATED getting his picture taken.  He would turn his head.  He would yell at us.  He would do most anything to avoid having his picture taken.  Something happened when he got sick.  Kalissa really pushed taking his picture and started snapping them even if he would grumble.  Eventually he got better at it and let us take pictures. I’m so glad she did.

We now have lots of pictures of him sick…here at the end of radiation.  He was about three weeks from dying.

Here’s a picture of us with Gannon.  I had driven Kramer home from a hospital stay and we stopped on the way home to visit our new born grandson on the way home.  You can see his hospital bracelet is still on.

There are many-many pictures of him sick…with cough pillows…pictures with feeding tubes and medicine bottles.  We even had a photographer come just two days before he died to take family pictures.  Kramer didn’t bulk about it one bit.  I’m thankful we have them…

Here he is after his unsuccessful lung surgery.

But, I long for more pictures like the one below…Kramer in his element, not sick and doing the things he loved most.  Here, he’s mowing hay.

Here he’s reading books to Scotty and Carver.

Here he is working in the garage.

Here him and I are at the Fireman’s breakfast working the ticket stand.  I love these pictures.

I wish a million times over that we had more pictures of him.  I wish we had casual pictures so we could remember him how he was.  Instead we had pictures of him sick, hooked up to tubes and dependent on medicine.  My heart longs to see him how I saw him day to day in his shirts with cut off sleeves…in pants that I had patched for him…working on a piece of furniture that is in my house to this day, but those are the pictures I really don’t have many of…no one has them because he wouldn’t allow them to be taken.  The few I do have, he’s not looking at the camera…I can’t see those blue eyes that so many of our grandkids have.  I wish I could.

Through all of this I’ve learned.  TAKE THE PICTURE.  Let you kids take your picture.  Smile.  Don’t worry about your double chin or your tummy that isn’t in shape.  Just say cheese and hope for the best.

Because years from now when you’re no longer here, you don’t want to be remembered by the pictures that were taken of you when you are in the hospital…You don’t want to be remembered because you had a feeding tube, or a hospital bracelet, or finished radiation.

You’ll want to be remembered when you were strong, vibrant, and full of life.  If you don’t take the pictures for yourself.  Please take the pictures for your family…If you don’t one day years from now your family will be like we are, longing for pictures that showed the real you…double chin and all!!

Please, take the picture.

27 thoughts on “Take a Picture”

  1. Thank you for this post Jo. Once again, you’ve made me think…..I’m always saying to my daughter “Don’t take my photo, I look awful “, but now I’ll remember your words and let her take all the photos.
    Sending you and your family much love xx

  2. Christina Coats

    Thank you Jo, your words are ringing in my ears and the next time someone want to take my pic I will stay and not run!!

  3. So appropriate Jo. My brother in law passed away on Wednesday after a short diagnosis of Multiple myeloma. It is so sad, my heart is breaking. Our last picture of him was a month ago with my sis and I and Mickey. He was sad looking but I’m so grateful to have it.
    But Kramer will never be gone as long as you keep talking about him and keeping him in your hearts! Its so important.

  4. Susan the Farm Quilter

    Absolutely right!! I must have needed to hear this as tomorrow I’ll be vacationing for four days with extended family…lots of pictures will be taken and I won’t balk at being in the pictures, now that I am the oldest one in the family now. Great advice!

  5. I am so much like Kramer regarding pictures. I have always hated to have my picture taken and it goes way way back to very young years. I have tried to do better about it, but guess I better do better yet. You have so reminded me and others that it is important for those left behind. I need to accept that I am who I am, fat tummy and all.

  6. Barbara J Gordy

    You’re so right Jo! I never thought of it like that. I never want my picture taken anymore because I think I my hair looks awful, I’ve gained weight… But I will try now to do much better. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  7. I so agree with you! I have been the one usually behind the camera ever since my dad gave me my first camera when I was 8 years old. A brownie. It got me started and I even became a photographer. I do let people take pictures of me because I believe what I used to tell them… we need the memories!

  8. Thank you for another excellent post! You so often remind us of something we know or give us another point of view. My husband and I have been sorting through family photos and it brings back so many memories. Be sure to label the date and occasion and also who the people are. It’s sad to look at old photos and know you’re related to the people but not know who they are.

  9. So true. I don’t have many pictures of my mom as she was always the one taking them. She also hated having hers taken. Mom’s been gone 33 years.

  10. Missy Reynolds

    Thank you so very much for sharing the lessons you’ve learned along your grief journey. So much wisdom!
    May God keep those pictures in your mind as vivid as day!

  11. Absolutely right – and hopefully there will be more photos taken of the people you have reached so their families will have good memories. (Guess I’d better take that advice too – I usually take the pics for my chorus and have not been good at giving the camera to others so I can be included! Hmmmm…. )

  12. All the pictures are treasures. You have talked many times about how Kramer was never a smiley man. To me, those photos don’t look truly like ‘sick’ photos. They look like normal Kramer ;-) And I know what you mean. Most of the photos we have of my Dad were taken during his dying process from lung cancer. And we love every one of those photos. Like Kramer, he was not a skinny man so he never had the truly dying appearance that thin people have.

    LOVE the photos and the memories and the teaching you provide….every….single….day….Jo. thank you!

    Hugs and happy weekend!

  13. Rosie Westerhold

    We were never a family big on taking pictures. I have a few from when we were growing up, but I don’t think there is even one “formal” picture of my parents and my brother and I. And when there WERE pictures, my mom was the one taking them, and she always cut off our heads!!! There is a whole ROLL of pictures from my wedding day of everyone with NO HEADS. TOO FUNNY. That in itself brings back many memories.

    Unfortunately, the tradition of not taking many pictures carried on when I married. I have a few pictures of hubby and I, but not many. I guess we were more “in the moment” and not thinking about capturing that moment with pictures.

    My husband passed away in January, and I have a very few pictures of him or he and I together. I took a few when he was in the hospital, but I so wish I had taken MORE. I wish I had taken more of he and I relaxing on our deck for “porch time.” When we were out to dinner or enjoying ourselves somewhere. I have the memories in my mind and in my heart, but no physical memories like pictures. And, the pictures I do have, are all digital. We just didn’t print many pictures through the years.

    So, I concur with Jo. TAKE the pictures. It wasn’t as if we both hated our pictures being taken, it just wasn’t our “thing.” Dang, and double dang. At least I have the memories. Not quite as good as a physical picture, but those memories are in my heart.

  14. And since Mom is usually taking the photos, it’s a good idea to make dad do it once in awhile. I’ve heard over and over friends say they have very few pictures of their moms from their growing up days because she was the one behind the camera.

  15. That was a great article! I too do not like my picture taken but now I will rethink that! Thanks for the insight!

  16. Thanks, Jo, well said. I’ll add: take the video. My husband was always the photographer so I don’t have tons of pictures of him, but after I got a smartphone I started taking more, thankfully. I have lots taken during his 5 months of hospice, to send to family, but it’s too hard to look at those. After he died I came across two audio recordings of his voice and am so grateful to have them. Strangely it brings about a small sense of normality to hear his voice again. But I don’t have one single video to see his expressions that I loved. So take the video too, please, for your loved ones.

  17. My husband gets so mad at me cause I already crashed one phone with all my pictures on it. I love pictures. I would however advise if you only put them on your phone to back it up and buy extra storage. I lost all my pictures. Very important ones of my loved ones. I bought a printer that I can download and print photos out on paper or to make tees and memories quilts. Yes even when they object- take the pictures. Hugs so touched by your stories Jo

  18. Wonderful advice, thank you for the gentle reminder about the simple things that become important in the end. Pictures are such a blessing when someone is no longer with us.

  19. Your post today has really hit my heart. You do such a wonderful job expressing your thoughts and words. I am a person who loves to take photos and I am always taking photos of my family, friends, places and other things. Since my children don’t live close to me when my husband was sent to Omaha in an ambulance I took photos so I could send to my kids. My husband was a very thin man so he did look ill. He passed away from heart issues and not a day goes by that I don’t miss him but I do have photos to look at which I am grateful. I look forward to reading your blogs every day along with hearing about your children and grandchildren. You just need to start taking more photos now especially of all your adorable little grandchildren and also their parents.
    You will have to learn to take selfies too.

  20. Judith Fairchild

    So true! When pictures are what is left of someone younger the whole story especially for grand children who won’t remember that person.

  21. Terry Mowszowski

    Thank you Jo, My sweetheart passed this past November, also having been ill for a couple of years, We did take pictures when we could and have them as a reminder of the good days and the poignant days and right at the end our sad days. this 15th June would have been our 46th anniversary, This time my kids brought me flowers and I took some to him for a change, thanks for you postings, stay safe and well during these times. TerryM in Israel.

  22. I was much like Kramer and didn’t want my picture taken. But then, we would look back at events and I never appeared to be at any of them because I was always taking the pictures and I didn’t like mine to be taken. That’s when I realized if I wanted to be part of the family photo album of life, I had to allow pictures. I still don’t always like them, but at least I’m represented.

    Thank you, Jo, for sharing your life with us. Love and hugs.

  23. Jo;

    My daughter and I have run many road races together, that involved many training runs. ( I run as fast as a turtle lol). But she always insisted on pictures after our runs, training and otherwise. I would always complain, and then one day she said,,,,,, Mom, one day these pictures will be all I have. That truly hit home with me. I no longer complain about the pictures. You are spot on!!!!! TAKE THE PICTURES.

  24. Thanks Jo! I do not like to be in pictures, but after reading your post I will be in the pictures. Double chin and all

  25. A very real story. I agree we don’t like how we look so we avoid pictures that show the real us. My addition to this would be to identify who is in the picture, when and where it was taken. I have recently been looking through old family photos of my parents and grandparents – my brother’s house burned at Christmas and they are wanting to replace some photos they had. I am looking at black and white photos and I have no one to tell me who is in them. Some people I recognize some not so much – is it Aunt Marie or Aunt Bernie?
    Thanks for sharing your life with us Jo.

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