Recently I tagged along with my husband and son as they made some preparations for their upcoming hunting season. While hunting is not an activity I find particularly exciting, it was heartwarming to see the enthusiasm that father and son share. Jake was nothing but smiles as he lead me around to their favorite staging spots and pointed out signs of deer activity. I myself found the scenery and small hike exhilarating, and was glad to be able to share in a small part of what is obviously something special between the men in my life.
In a childhood full of dysfunction and constant upheaval there was one man who, for a brief time, gave me much needed love and protection. At that time, I was young enough to not really understand the intimate details of our family problems, but fortunately, I was old enough to retain some of the memories of this man. Charles Wogan, my grandfather on my father’s side, would be a rare stabilizing force in my early childhood. While I don’t remember his face, I somehow have a inner memory of kind eyes. My favorite and most vivid memories were the daily walks he and I shared. We always walked the same route and crossed over the same little creek where he would always stop and hoist me up to sit on edge of the cement barrier. We would linger there, mostly in silence, as we watched the water trickle under the bridge, until he’d finally say, “Well, it’s almost dark. Better git before you grandmother starts to worry.”
I don’t remember exact details but at the age of five, I lost the one person in my life, at that time, who I believed truly loved me. He died of a heart attack, ironically while he was in the hospital recovering from what I believe had been some sort of heart episode.
A few days ago, I took an unplanned road trip to my hometown and found myself standing at his grave. While I can vividly picture my grandmother and the last time I saw her, it isn’t my memories of her that draw me here. It’s the memory of a man who gave hope and love to a little girl who felt abandoned and unworthy. The only adult in my early childhood who seemed to genuinely take an interest in my welfare and looked out for me while he could. I don’t visit often but it always leaves me feeling humbled and blessed to have had him in my life.
Like Dory says, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”
In the movie “Shall We Dance”, Richard Gere plays a man who has spent most of his adult life doing what many of us do. Every day he gets on the train, rides to work where he puts in his 8-10 hours, then rides the train home to his family. On one train ride home he catches a glimpse of a woman (Jennifer Lopez) standing in the window of a dance studio. A place he has probably passed a thousand times but never really noticed until now. The woman seems to be looking right at him but in reality is lost in her own thoughts and sadness and doesn’t see him at all. The rest of the movie is about he seeks out a relationship with this woman but instead finds what he was really looking for, passion.
His own personal life is good. He has a beautiful wife who loves him and a daughter that any parent would be proud of and a lovely home in the suburbs. It’s picture perfect but the spotting of this woman in the window has somehow revealed a longing for more. For those who maybe have not seen it, spoiler alert, you think he’s after the woman and for a while so does he, but he soon realizes he isn’t interested in an affair. He wants something far more fulfilling. He isn’t interested in what could bring him short-term pleasure and eventually destroy what he knows is a great life. What he really wants is something that makes him feel vital and can bring him a happiness that he doesn’t have to regret or feel bad about. He discovers a love for ballroom dance and as he pursues his passion you begin to see how it doesn’t necessarily change his life, it improves it.
I love this movie but I only just recently realized why and how much I relate to it. It wasn’t a person that captivated me or led me to the realization that I felt something was missing from my life. It was a hobby, scrapbooking to be exact. A creative soul at heart, it would become a perfect outlet, not to mention a great way to spend time with my best friend. Over time, as I began to take more and more pictures I found myself not only taking photos of the people in my life but my surroundings. Barns would become what I can only describe as an obsession. While I’m still working on incorporating this passion into my daily life, I am grateful for the joy that it brings me in my spare time and know that in many ways it has improved my life and given me a sense of identity and purpose that I have longed for.