Today is Thanksgiving. A day that has been spent with my family since I can remember. A day that today....will be different.
Today is the first Thanksgiving that won't be spent with my Mom. There were two big holidays growing up that were celebrated more than all the others, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those two holidays were pretty similar in how they were celebrated, mostly with a large dinner that was cooked and prepared by my Mom, and eaten as a family together in her kitchen at her and my father's house that I grew up in. Even after I got married, Sandi and I would spend the earlier half of the day with her parents and the 2nd half of the day with mine. When I opened my eyes this morning...they immediately swelled up with tears as the realization sunk in that the first of those two big holidays was finally here...and my mom wasn't.
I had always heard people say that when you lose someone...the holidays are the toughest. I had never paid too much mind to it since I had never lost anyone close to me. Now here I am and today is one of those "Holidays". As I sit here at my desk thinking of something to type, my emotions aren't exactly easy to explain. I've broken down a few times over the past couple days thinking about today and how different it would be, but now that it is here...Im surprised at how Im feeling. Two words best describe my emotions right now...thankful and blessed.
This past year has been a roller coaster ride of emotions, made up of times of sadness, laughter, loneliness, and love. With the year starting off with the loss of my mother on New Years Day, I would have never guessed that on one of our families biggest days spent together I would be feeling the way I am.
In the months following my mother's death, I had some of the most amazing and positive events happen in my life...the success of Cass Imaging just being one of them. My mom's passing played a huge role in me pulling the trigger on the business, and I truly believe she has played a large roll in making Cass Imaging the successful company that it is today. Her love for photography is what led me to pick up a camera in the first place, and it was her love for her son and always telling him how talented he was that made him believe that he could turn it into something more than a hobby one day.
Each time I walk in my parent's house Im reminded of my mother's love for photography, from the moment I walk in and see the framed photographs of our family that paint the walls. When I say that she always had a camera on her while my sister and I were growing up I'm not exaggerating, and she has boxes and boxes of 4x6 prints to show for it. Her favorite photos were always hung on the wall, some were replaced with new ones as we got older, while some that were her favorites never left. One of which was a photo that she took over 20 years ago of my sister and I on the steps of a hotel we had stayed at in San Diego when we were little. Its a photo that my sister and I weren't always big fans of because of how cheesy we looked in it (especially me), but my mom loved it and refused to take it down.
As children, my sister and I were lucky enough to have parents that loved to travel. My father works for the Navy so for as long as I can remember, he has traveled the world working on air craft carriers docked at all the different Naval Bases across the globe. As a photographer, my mom loved tagging along whenever she got the chance, and absolutely loved when we were able to travel as a family. There are a few places that my father traveled to more then others, which became some of my mother's favorite places to visit, one of which being San Diego.
In October I got the opportunity to take a trip to San Diego to visit my dad, and have him show me all the different places that my mom loved to visit when she would be out there with him. I got to see a lot of the places that she photographed, places she stayed at and we even ate at a few of her favorite places to eat. On my last night there, my father took me to the exact place my mother had stood with her camera and photographed my sister and I. The exact place that became the photograph that I had seen on her walls since the time she got it developed and put in a frame. The steps that I sat on as a child with my sister, while we were on one of our many family vacations. The steps that now are so much more than steps. They represent a time in my life when I was a kid that had everything a kid could ask for. I didnt have an Ipad or a smartphone, but I had parents that loved me and spoiled me in so many other ways, like bringing me to San Diego. Those steps represent a time when I was a kid....a happy kid.
Photography has become my life now. To hear people say that I remind them of my mother brings tears to my eyes...tears of happiness. My mother was an amazing woman and cared for other people like no one else I have ever met. Her love for photography has saved so many memories for me now that she is gone, so many memories like the one of my sister and I on those steps at the El Cordova Hotel. Memories that would probably be gone now as more and more years pass by. Its these memories saved by my mother's love for photography, and love for her family that ultimately led to my passion in photography now and all the success I have seen as a photographer.
So, today as I sit here, realizing I am running late to have Thanksgiving dinner with Sandi's family, I am thankful. Thankful for all the memories I have of my Mom. Thankful for all that she has givin me, and is still giving me. Thank you and love you Mom! Happy Thanksgiving!