One of the first things you do when your loved one passes away, is you find a picture of them that represents what they looked like for those preparing the body for an open-casket wake. For my grandmother, she was a beautiful woman inside and out, and there were thousands of pictures to choose from. Her cabinet was well-stocked with albums, files boxes, manila folders, Kodak and Fuji branded folders with thousands and thousands of pictures. Growing up, she would pull them out and reminisce with us, tell us stories about being a girl visiting cousins in Laredo and Taylor, Texas.
My first experiences with wedding photographs were of seeing my grandparent's classic wedding procession, and cake-cutting. They were such a gorgeous couple standing on a pedestal for their official wedding day portrait, her satin train and lace veil draped perfectly around her. There are pictures that show the infamous dances that occurred on my great-grandfather's patio, and the antics my dad and his siblings and cousins would get into. There are wedding day pictures of my Uncle Carlos and Aunt Terry, you can see how childlike they seemed marrying and joining the navy during the Vietnam War. Somehow she had some of the best shots from my own parent's 1976 wedding, pictures that not even my parent's wedding album contained. She had a beautiful picture of my mother dressed as a Fiesta Queen, and some of her bridal portraits taken at The McNay Art Museum.
There are pictures of her as a child, maybe three years old wearing a dress and trying a proper curtsy. When I see that picture I think of her mother Clemencia, (we called her Nani), and the love that probably burned in her chest as she watched her daughter play. I especially love seeing the pictures she took as a teenager, messing around and experimenting with a camera with her friends. There are 1940s sleepover pictures, her expression carefree and dreamlike. It makes it easy to imagine her as a young woman going through life the same way I have, but now with the wisdom of the things that happened to her and developed her into the woman I would often turn to for advice.
The pictures show a strong woman, not only physically and mentally but also in faith. She would start and end each day with prayer, no matter where she was. When I turned 21, she took me on my first trip to Las Vegas, and I remember waking up to the sounds of her rosary in our Riviera, Las Vegas hotel room! She prayed every day for each member of our family, and this is how I believe our family has enjoyed so many blessings and grace from Our Father through her intercession. With her passing, I know that it is now up to me to continue this ongoing prayer for my family.
When I took a leap of faith, and began my journey with Aria Productions, she wrote me a birthday card and said,
"You hold a special place in God's heart and mine and a special purpose in this world, and that makes you irreplaceable. My love and prayers are always with you. I'm so proud of how you have faced your challenges."
As a professional photographer, I know the gift that I am creating for my clients. I know that the picture I take of the bride and groom's grandparents may be the last treasured image they have, the picture they will reach for when they lose their special loved one. It's in the back of my mind always how special and important it is to capture these precious images.
When she knew her time on this earth would end soon, she put aside little keepsakes for each of us: jewelry, prayer beads, books, and yes the pictures. They are the most treasured possessions we have and they remind us to be strong in our faith, be courageous, and live doing what we know right in our heart.
You can see some of her pictures here:
Pray with your family and your children daily. You can download a prayer card here.
|prayer for my familyDownload a prayer card to pray for together with your family.||prayer for my childrenClick to download this prayer and pray daily with your children and teenagers.|
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10690174_10152269158741507_128914356052852056_n EMartinez-30 SAMartinezChristmas2015-9289 EMartinez-37My favorite picture of us on my wedding day. Captured by Once Upon A Time Photography.