This week has been an emotional one for me: the last week of the 2012-2013 school year for my own children, celebrating high school graduation with one of my nieces, and moving my parents into a senior's facility. This was a new phase for me on the roller coaster of dealing with my father's dementia. Those who've walked down this road with loved ones understand what it's like - skills and personality inexplicably dissolve before my eyes, turning him into a shell of the person he once was. My Dad, once a confident leader whom the africans nicknamed "Big Bull Elephant," acts more and more often like a lost child. But some memories are there, for both of us, to cherish.
In the process of packing, we came across black and white photographs which became a doorway into those precious memories. My Dad was a printer by trade, and one of his hobbies was photography. He not only knew how to take incredible pictures, but he was also a master at developing them. Growing up in southern Africa as missionary kids, my siblings and I spent hours sitting very still while Dad took hundreds of pictures in game reserves, villages, and wherever else we happened to travel. We spent many more hours with Dad in his makeshift dark room (usually in our bathroom), where we watched with delight while pictures magically took shape before our eyes. Once, Dad even filled the bathtub with chemicals so that he could develop a large rendition of a glorious african sunset he captured.
Although it is difficult to watch the Dad I know disappear, I am thankful for many things:
- The godly example my Dad set for me. He not only taught me about Jesus, but he also modelled Jesus for me.
- Many happy memories I have of times with my Dad - family holidays, playing table games, going fishing, camping.
- The love of photography passed on to me by my Dad.
- Many years with my Dad and the privilege of watching him grow old. I know many people do not have this privilege.
- This life is not all there is. One of my Dad's favourite songs is, "When we all get to Heaven."
I have some of these treasured times in picture format. I hope you enjoy a small glimpse of the memories I have because of my Dad.
|A home-made lathe used to carve beautiful wooden candlesticks|
|A closer look at the candlestick|
|It's a two-person job - one turns the lathe while the other carves|
|The eldest lady we met - 104!|
|Ruth L. Snyder|
Ruth was privileged to spend the first 10 years of her life in southern africa where her parents were missionaries. She now lives in northeastern Alberta with her husband, Kendall and their five children.