Written by guest writer, Sandy Graves

I like taking pictures more than anyone else I know.  I am not a professional photographer though, nor do I claim to be one; I just enjoy taking pictures.  Some people probably think I take way too many, and some may even find it annoying…

Basically, I attribute this hobby to my family.  Before Facebook, my Uncle Chris started a family website out of California, where we could all stay up-to-date on each other’s lives.  On this website, he

would post photos of all the family gatherings that were happening in his area, so that the rest of the family who lived elsewhere could see them too.  In turn, the rest of us were invited to send him photos to post to the website, so the Californians could see what was happening in our neck of the woods.  He even posted photos from my wedding in 2004, for the world to see.  His work on our family website is ultimately what influenced me to pick up the camera and begin shooting.

Later in 2004, my mother was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (LGD).  Not surprisingly, this was the saddest day of my life, and I felt as if my world were crashing down on me. How could this happen to my mother?  How could this happen to me?  What was I going to do without her?

We all realized that this diagnosis meant she wouldn’t have much time left with us, even though at times we were in denial.  As a result, friends and family gathered together as much as possible, some of them traveling many miles, to see my mother one last time.  I TOOK PICTURES.

I took pictures almost everywhere we went, and even when she was bedridden at home I continued taking pictures.  Every birthday party, every Monday brunch (yes, Monday, I will save that for another post), every time she held my baby girl, I was there with my camera.  I wanted to ensure these memories would stay with me forever

I took pictures for my sake, but I also took pictures FOR HER.  When she was confined to her bed, I took pictures so she could see what was happening outside her windows.  She missed weddings, graduation parties, birthday parties, hockey games, and more, because she was restricted to her bed.  I wanted her to be able to share in these memories though, so I would carry the laptop to her, in order to show her pictures from the events and places in which she was unable to attend.

When she passed, I took pictures at the funeral home.  Although some people will think this is strange, or maybe inappropriate, that’s what I wanted to do, so I did it.  I wanted my daughter to know someday that she was given the opportunity to meet her amazing grandmother, and that she also got the chance to say goodbye.  I also wanted to show my children how strongly my mother was loved, as so many people attended her funeral prayer vigil.

But even after she died, I didn’t stop taking pictures.  I want to preserve as many memories as I can for my children, because one day I won’t be here.  But even after I’m gone, they will be able to cherish these photos and reminisce about all the times that we spent together.

I take pictures.