"Family: where life begins and love never ends." - Unknown
With family, extended and immediate, you do not have to interview or endure social trials with them, they simply happen to you. No work on your part, at least at first. The work comes with maintaining the bond. This blogging experience, if nothing else, has opened my soul, heart and mind up for examination. Reflection is more of a constant and has evolved into a priority. Why do I act, react and enact the way I do? To my surprise, and honestly my disappointment because I haven't realized it sooner, my family has influenced me more than I have ever given them credit.
Confession: I do not see or stay in contact with my extended family as often as I should. The last time York was my shipping address was when I was 18 and fresh-faced. That was twelve years ago. But, I am throwing away distance as a valid excuse for not staying in touch. With a "life is happening, I must seize it" mentality, my extended family was not always a priority over the course of those dozen years. That is not a proud statement. I definitely put myself and my interests first. Goals surrounding school, sports and my profession clouded time. I was well connected person. I was not a well connected cousin or niece or first cousin once removed.
My extended family will be the FIRST folks to voice how proud of me they are, regardless of what I am throwing myself into. They do not resent me for the time away. I am willing to bet they believe the above paragraph is borderline harsh. But, that is what makes them good family. Their support is unwavering. They accept me for the work-in-progress that I am. Their hugs just as tight and engulfing as they were when I was six with buck teeth. Their love doesn't fade with distance or time, and for that I am grateful and crazy lucky.
The motivation which propelled me to thrive in many situations has largely been fueled by them, my family. I credited too much of that drive to myself. But, in fact, without them assisting in cultivating my perspectives during my most influential years, that next level of motivation would have ceased to exist.
This post contains pictures of my extended family on my mother's side. We recently spent a late Christmas together, in York, a couple of weeks ago and had some family shots snapped by the upbeat and energetic Trinity from Trinity Walker Keefer Photography. The photo shoot was quick, but what she captured is lasting. For my husband and myself, it had been over a year since we had seen most of them. There were insanely cute family members added, hair dyed for powerful reasons and new adventures, domestic and abroad, being sought by all. Yet, familiarity dominated the crisp air. Snapping candid shots as we were all embracing one another, Trinity froze time. Words will never do justice to the joy of these fleeting moments.
We now, as a family, embark, on a different type of journey. My aunt Julie, who battled and overcame breast cancer once, was recently re-diagnosed and this time with a terminal label. In September, she attended my birthday bash. With a crude card in hard we hid from my mother (sorry momma), she was joyful and grateful for her current stage of remission. Around Thanksgiving, "remission" was no longer an accurate description. How quick her health altered takes my breath away. It seems even more overwhelming as I place that timeline into words. I hit the keys a little harder while typing because, well, it makes me angry.
She is a fighter, though.
I would have described Julie as a fighter pre-cancer. Ya know that quote from Johnny Cash, in his deep, rich tone, "Life is rough, so you gotta be tough." My aunt is the living version of that quote. She will be gracing us with her toughness for a long time to come. We ALL believe this. Ya hear that Aunt Julie, you are stuck with us! I am honored to be stuck with you. The family ties that bind us will be sending you strength and humor and, when needed, vibrant purple power.
A HUGE thank you to Trinity for allowing me to feature these moments. The energetic and positive manner in which you work allowed us to feel comfortable enough to show vulnerability and love. We will cherish this snaps. Thank you, thank you.
Moments snapped by Trinity of Trinity Walker Keefer Photography.
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