Sunday, August 7th, 2011
In April 2007 after dating two months and having already gone to meet my parents, I flew to Sacramento to meet my wife’s family- all of them. That meant not only her parents, but also her two sisters and most of her seven brothers along with all their kids.
I was the new boyfriend. There was no guarantee that any of the family members would ever see me again. I could have simply been a single-serving special friend that ultimately disappeared from most peoples’ memories. At best, I could have been, “Hey Jill, whatever happen to that guy from Alabama with dark hair?”
Instead of becoming a blurry memory, I proposed the following January and we were married seven months later.
Over the past four years, I have really grown closer to my wife’s family. But during my most recent visit, there was a new closeness I felt to them all because now that my wife and I have our son, it has never been more official that I am grafted into the family tree; though our family branch is labeled “Shell” instead of “Tuttle.” Though I obviously am not kin to them by blood, I am part of their family and have helped it grow.
The gathering place for all my wife’s family in Sacramento is her mom’s house. Today I took a few pictures of some of the signs hanging on the walls there. I have written before about how people show what they value through the art they create. In my mother-in-law’s case, the decorations she hangs on the walls help serve as art.
My favorite sign at the house reads “These are the days we will remember forever.” That motto is so much more clever than it may appear to be. With me being such a desperately nostalgic guy, constantly yearning for the best of my life’s warmest memories, that sign reminds me that when I go out to California with my wife, and now my son, that I don’t have to wish for a moment in the past. Instead, I get to enjoy warm fuzzy memories as they occur in real time.
Even though I do my darndest to capture all these stories and conversations with my wife’s side of the family, who I typically only see once a year, it must be my obsession with nostalgia that causes me to be one of the official photographers of the family. Because even though these are the days we will remember forever, my memory is only so good. Digital cameras definitely help.