About 15-years ago I had an idea, and it wasn’t just some idea, it was a movement – at least in my head. It had several layers and I felt it would be a blessing for my family. It was for my parents first and foremost, Bump & Tommy Gaines. I wanted to do something that mattered, something that they could enjoy over and over again. It was also my sons to give a sense of history and frame where they came from. And finally it was for my siblings as a keepsake, a reminder for all of us that no matter where we are in life, we came from very good stock. I wanted to put together a family video with history and stories and plenty of laughter and reflection. We get so turned around in life and I wanted a piece that would center us, and remind us to stick together.
I may have had that idea 15 years ago, but I didn’t really start to push through until several years later. Due to my own frenetic pace with work and the distractions of life in general, something else always seemed to get in the way. Once I became serious enough, I moved to have a family portrait made and it came out beautifully. My parents absolutely loved it. I didn’t tell anyone what I was really up to, but that portrait was to be the cornerstone of the video. I took a video camera home and attempted to interview my parents. Now that was funny. They did as most of us do when a camera is introduced, they froze. So I went back several times until I could get them to relax just enough to get a story or two. My parents have a lot of stories and I wanted them all if I could only get them to talk. I’m sure that my mom knew what I was trying to do with the interviews and showing them pictures to get them to reflect, but she was all about family so she didn’t mind at all. Then I started collecting family pictures from my parents first and then from most of my siblings being it so I had very few of my own. I scanned and placed them in folders on my computer along with some notes, a couple of outlines as well as the video clips. I was still waiting on pictures from family so I paused, I didn’t want to leave anything out. We’re all very busy and while I came back a few times to re-visit where I was, after a while work and life took over.
Two years ago my computer crashed. I did manage to back up two short videos, but the rest of the videos along with practically all of the pictures that I collected from my family were lost. It knocked the wind of out me, it was a gut-punch and I can admit that it took a while before I got back up again. I told my folks about the loss of data – mainly most of my writing – but not about my family project. I made a decision to start over but I allowed life to push the pause button yet again.
Two weeks ago I got the call that no one wants, I lost my mom. Bernice “Bump” Gaines was the last of her siblings and the compass for my family. Three days before her 85th birthday and 18-days before Mother’s Day she went home to be the Lord. Her health had been failing for a few years now. I was on a trip when I got the news and had to hit the ground running once I got back. On the day I was make the 3-hour drive to my hometown of Fort Pierce, Florida my sister Janice called to tell me that the family requested that I put together a slide show for mama. I had wanted to do this project the entire time, but I wanted to do it for her while she was here – not after she’s gone. On top of that, the focus would have to be different now and I have even fewer pictures than I had before due to my crash. I made the video. I stumbled through. Going through those pictures made it both beautiful and brutal at the same time.
I never did get the pictures I was waiting on. I certainly wish that I had pushed through on my original project, but if you think this post is about regret, or my pain, then you missed it. None of us can change what happened last night so what does that say about what happened or didn’t happen years ago? No, this post is about today. I’m encouraging myself and you as well, that if there’s something in your heart that you want to do, something that matters and would bless others – then do it and do it now. There will always be work and life issues, but make the things that matter a priority. Forget about it being perfect or having all your dots in a row. The good stuff and sometimes the very best stuff frequently happens while we’re stumbling along on the path to the things that matter. I’m also encouraging you to take some pictures. Sure we have fond memories, but pictures frame the moment – take them. I don’t have a picture of just me and my mom and I wish that I had several of them during different times in my life…her life. Take some pictures.
This video is not something that mourns my mother, instead it’s a celebration of who she is. Bump continues to be huge source of inspiration for me and my family. It may not appeal to you, it’s full of faces that you may not recognize, but it’s also full of love that you won’t be able to ignore. This wasn’t the project I wanted or dreamed of doing, but it’s the project that matters to my family today.
Happy Mother’s Day Mama, it’s my first one without you. Know that you are loved. I’m sure you’re up there having a great time and flashing that million dollar smile.
With more love than I could ever explain,
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