For years I took lots of pictures. Many of them are still waiting to be sorted into albums. I still take a lot of pictures, but now they're stored on the computer. At first I thought that was horrible, but I actually see many of those more than I do the printed forms. They're much easier to find, and it doesn't involve dragging out or putting up boxes when I need to look for one.
As I age, I'm finding I have many mental photographs that were never taken that are forever burned into memory. As we came home from a friend's memorial service today, I've thought about that quite a bit. There are many mental images that come to mind when I think of Steve Anderson, but I don't have an actual photograph for any of them.
One is a Sunday morning scene. Steve would sometimes dress up, but he usually wore khakis or blue jeans with a dress shirt and sport coat on Sunday mornings. He taught the 1st-3rd graders, and he'd be on one knee, chatting with the kids. And they loved it. My favorite memory of that oft repeated scene was when he'd chat with the Wells twins (two identical boys). Their faces would light up as he was almost always able to distinguish which was which. I never figured out how he could, but being the father of identical twins himself, he knew how important it was to the boys that they be recognized for themselves and not as a set.
Another is moving days. Despite the fact that his back and knee often hurt him, I can't think of a time we needed to move someone in the church and he wasn't there with at least one of his boys, helping. He was not afraid to sweat, and didn't mind in the least if his children did either.
My other mental images don't necessarily bring a smile to my face, but bring physical hurt. There were times he'd talk to my husband when he was discouraged or concerned about a member of his family. I love the fact that he loved and cared about his family so much, but it also makes me hurt because I know their biggest prayer warrior, emotional cheerleader, and supporter is now gone. He left some mighty big shoes for our church to fill.
And last, but certainly not least, would be his smile while he was talking about his boys. I remember one time in particular that one of his boys in their younger years (and no, I won't say which one of the 7), acquired a credit card from the house and figured out how to bid on e-bay using a parent's account. He was early elementary school at the time. His parents were quite startled to receive the e-mail that they had won the bid for the old coin, and he was quite excited when questioned about it. Steve was both horrified that a child that young had figured out how to make it all work, but also quite pleased that a child that young had figured out AND done his homework on the worth of the coin. (He was also very grateful the kid's top bid didn't go over $5.) They did change their passwords and discuss internet purchases and credit cards with him, but you could see the shock and pride in his eyes as he discussed it. And that mental image of his eyes haunts me. I so badly want the boys to see that again as they grow up, get married, graduate from high school, and live their lives. I know that God is sovereign and He will be faithful to provide for them, but that look of love and pride in the eyes is something that cannot be replaced.
I know the days and weeks and months ahead will be challenging as they experience new normals, some of them harder to deal with than others. But I'm so thankful they have memories of jokes and laughter and fun times with their Dad to give them something to smile as they grieve. And I'm thankful our brains do recall images of events, and that the memories of our loved ones live on inside us.