Tuesday, August 10, 2010

smile for the camera

"You can't take a picture of this. It's already gone." -Six Feet Under

My camera broke. This is very upsetting because this is the third camera in about 4 years that I've rendered useless. Also, I don't like relying on other people to capture memories...

Which leads me to my recent mini-family reunion over the the past weekend. My grandparents planned a last minute trip from Florida and stayed at my aunt and uncle's. It was my aunt and uncle, cousins, mom, brother and sisters. For the first time in a long time (longer that I can remember), we were all together.

There were many pictures taken that weekend, but there was one that wasn't taken. That's the one I've thought about the most.

On Saturday night, we were all zonked out on baked ziti, beer, and wine. A bunch of us were sitting in the family room,our eyes glazed over as we watched TV. In came Grandma. "I want to take a family picture." Me, being me, said, "You pick the worst times to take pictures." I didn't mean to be callous, only slightly sarcastic. And it's not that I (and others) didn't want to be a picture, but I just didn't want to be in one then.

Grandma walked away. I knew instantly I was a bonehead. My aunt, mom and I went to get her and cheer her up. We crowded around her and gave her a big but she wanted nothing of it. My grandma, one of the most loving and caring person I know, was pissed. My mom went back into the family room but my aunt and I followed Grandma into the guest room.

Grandma started to cry, and I never see her cry. "I wanted a picture of all of us together. Who knows when we'll all be together again, with all our health issues and what not."

I was stunned. I didn't even see it that way. My grandpa's health has been declining, and my grandma had been showing signs of forgetfulness (more than usual). Yet, in taking time and life for granted, I assumed they would be around forever.

We said we'd take the picture. She refused then and she stubbornly refused to take the picture the next morning. The moment was already gone.

I wondered why she needed a picture to capture our family together. But I've been realizing that memories can be fleeting. Hell, I barely remember yesterday. It's the capturing of memories that keeps them safe. We took pictures all weekend, but I don't think I'll even forget the family picture we didn't take. I learned that we need something to help us remember. That there's something intangible about act of posing for the camera and smiling.

I should learn to take better care of my camera.