Something I’ve learned doing photography is that families come in all shapes and forms. It’s beautiful to see families like this one come together over time, like a quilt with different unique pieces being stitched together to form one big masterpiece.
Once upon a time, there was a terrifyingly beastly creature named Mongo! Mongo loyally served his human and wreaked havoc on all who crossed her (hence the disembodied arm)…
His full name? Mongo the Magnificent, of course! Or…is it Mongo the Menacing?
This morning my hubby and I drove out to the beautiful Mattole Valley for a photoshoot. I was especially excited since I haven’t been out that way in a few years and I was missing the coastline and pretty much everything about this magical place.
The Mattole Valley is where our family property is located. Each summer, my boys chomp at the bit until they can get out there with their dad. It’s not only a place to hunt, relax and seek refuge from WiFi, it’s also the place where my dad rests.
Before my dad passed away, he always told us he wanted to have his final resting place at the “Shady Spot.” This peaceful and tranquil location was my dad’s favorite spot. He would proclaim it as the best spot to bag a deer but I knew it was because he could sneak in as many naps as he wanted and not have to worry about scaring anyone with his grizzly bear snoring.
My dad’s ashes were scattered at our family property a few years ago and the boys planted a redwood tree at his favorite spot. I’m hoping to send out a few hardy succulents this year to add to his garden.
I’m really tempted to send out a rose bush, only because my dad hated dealing with them. He’d hack them to the point of death (his version of a “pruning”) and those suckers would grow back bigger and better the following year – I swear they were flipping him off with their thorny branches. I have a few of his hated roses now planted in my backyard and they are flourishing – even with my gentle pruning. Knowing my dad, I think he’d get the joke.
The drive was absolutely gorgeous and it was nice saying a silent “hello” and an, “I love you,” in the direction of the ridge where he now sleeps with one heavenly eye open, keeping a watchful eye on his grandsons.
We have beautiful white subway tile in our master bedroom shower. When the sun comes in through the block glass window, it shines like a bathroom beacon of cleanliness. I spend time each day drying off these tiles and do mild clean up as needed. This shower is my pride and joy.
When I hopped in yesterday, I immediately noticed a few patches of soot spread sporadically around the tiles, in no particle pattern. I was annoyed and cleaned the patches vigorously. What I quickly learned was that soot likes to smear and spread and stick to everything – I imagine just like the fire it originated from. With some intensive scrubbing, I was able to make the tile as sparking as it originally had been and all was well in my OCD world.
This morning, I found more patches of soot inside my shower. Again, I scrubbed and wiped the offending stain away, and then I paused to look over at my soundly sleeping husband. This time my response was not formed out of negativity – it was one of respect.
You see, my husband is a volunteer fireman – he’s actually the Captain of his company. To say I’m proud of him is an understatement. In the past 48 hours, he’s fought two structure fires, both occurring while the rest of us were sleeping in our beds. He did so without complaint and without any sort of financial compensation.
To be honest, it’s not always easy seeing him go to calls of this nature – I’d much rather have him next to me, snuggled up and safe within the confines of our home. But one thing I’ve learned as a firewife, is how to share – to share him with his department and an entire community. Volunteer firefighters train several times a month in addition to to the calls they routinely handle and the volunteer services they perform, especially during the holidays. It’s hard – and can be even harder, to share your husband with so many others, especially since most of the spots he’s sent too aren’t exactly a walk in the park.
As we settle into this holiday season, please keep the firefighters and their families in your thoughts. And if you ever see a spot of soot, let it be a reminder of their sacrifices and the quiet servitude they graciously gift upon our communities.