Heavenly smelling lilacs remind me of my mom. I stop to smell them this time of year at every opportunity. It gives reason to pause, be thankful and pledge to carry her torch. Give, forgive and be appreciative for all that we have been given and share as much as you possibly can for it is not what you have, what matters is what you have given to others. It’s the most rewarding. Having a big boat, vacations to exotic destinations and lots of money in the bank would be nice. But I’d probably end up giving it all away anyway. I can’t afford any of that, but often think I have a more fulfilling life than many that do. I am sure many who have, give plenty. But for those like me who have nothing to give except time, energy and self-sacrifice, you know the feeling. I can hear my wife Ann rolling her eyes reading this. She calls me the Blabbering, Blubbering, Blogger. I digress.
Coming from a beautiful Saturday morning’s assignment at Riverside Cemetery where volunteers were placing flags at veterans gravestones for the upcoming Memorial Day Celebrations, I was coming down Ash Street, thinking of my mom who I visited at the cemetery after taking my photos. It seems every time I think about my mom, something good happens. I passed three kids picking, what else, lilacs, my mom’s favorite, from a tree. In a split second, I had to make a decision to stop or not. My first thought was that readers would complain about the kids picking them. The second was the one that has made photographing anything in the past decade difficult. A growing distrust of the media, parents afraid for their kids and the fact that I might get punched out for taking pictures of kids weigh heavily. I knew we already had a tight news hole, so there probably wasn’t even any room…..and there was a car on my bumper.
So I slowed and banged a left and went around the block. I inched up to the intersection and the kids had their backs turned. They were picking and talking while I fired off a half dozen photos until they noticed me.
I watched their expressions change.
I grabbed my press pass and threw the lanyard around my neck and slowly approached, making sure to keep a good distance and quickly identify myself, then asked if their parents were around. One of their mom’s said something from the second-floor window where she was taking it all in. After I explained what I was doing she gave her consent. When I asked the kids what they were picking them for, they said, in unison, our mom’s, “and my sister” one added. To hear the mom AWWWWWW from above was priceless.
Just then, one of the boys’ father approached, and he looked mad. He was glaring and walked aggressively towards me. My defense mechanism kicked in. I adjusted my stance, put on my most disarming smile, then grabbed my press pass around my neck to show him who I was. While he relaxed a bit, he was still not happy. I explained that I often find “slices of life…..good news photos that represent the positive nature of our community” when driving around town between assignments. I told him we like to publish positive news and photos whenever we can. He was not convinced and still had a suspicious look, but when he turned to his son and saw the bouquet and the smiles on the kids, he relented.
As he walked away, he looked at me sideways, but now I had 2 out of 3 OK’s. I took one last photo of the three together and sent them on their way with my business card. Five minutes later, Jonah’s mom called and she was excited not only to get the flowers but was eager to have her son’s photo in the paper. She was most concerned about finding out when it would be published. I told her the same rehearsed line of “I can’t make any promises because as it all depends on what else is going on and I wouldn’t know if there was enough room for it until later.” I told her if nothing else, it would appear online at sunjournal.com. It had been a great morning with only a baseball game and exhibition left to photograph.