“Use a picture. It’s worth thousand words.” is what newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane stated in an article in 1911.1 This picture is the reason I haven’t written much here lately. I’ve been sort of busy being a new husband and stepfather. This is a picture of my new family. This picture makes me tear up…seriously, my eyes water uncontrollably when I see this photo. This photo captures everything important in my life. This is the morning of November 10, 2013…nearly 12 hours after I married Tisha Tucker.
A quick summation gives no justice, but here it is: Tisha and I had married the day before and spent our wedding night at Mansfield Plantation2 in Georgetown, South Carolina. Her kids, my new stepchildren, had spent the evening at home with my cousins Chris and Tracey Reese…and the following day they brought the kids out so they could see the plantation and grounds. Tracey is a photographer who does a fantastic job with senior portraits and family photos…as far as I know she has no professional training…but obviously she has an eye for catching a moment. She caught this moment when me and her husband (my blood cousin) were talking stupid bullshit…which is what we always do when we are together. While we were bullshitting, Tracey was watching Tisha and her kids sharing an impromptu moment. That is a quick summary of “what happened” but in reality…the moment was so much more.
This is a moment where what this family is about. Tisha is on the right holding her youngest daughter’s (Emma Claire) hand, who in turn is holding on to her older sister’s (Meredith) hand. This connection between these girls and their mother is not only physical (through the holding of hands) but also through the fact that the two daughters are very much still young in their mother’s eyes (mind) and their own reliance upon her for guidance and love. The complete separation of their brother, Tisha’s son, is the most telling. He was just over a month before turning 18 in this photo and figuring out who he is. He has spent a life with nothing but females and has had to navigate life surrounded by pink, bows, dance lessons, and the everyday things that are primarily feminine. His not holding hands and walking a bit forward of the women in his life which represents his desire to lead his own life yet not completely ready to separate from the youthful bonds to his siblings and his mother.
None of them knew this photo was being taken…none of them knew how this picture perfectly captured who they are as a family. I am the one missing in the picture. I am the new interloper…the new stepfather…the man who has never had children…the man who has fallen madly in love with a woman who has children. The reality of my presence in their life has yet to dawn on the kids…Tisha was somewhat aware…but being recently wedded to me…the shock of a new member to the family was even beyond her recognition at this point. None of them are aware of how responsible I feel for them…I deeply I love them.
This picture is now almost two months old. If it were taken today, I would be on Tisha’s right holding her hand…or I would be a little forward trying to provide a little guidance to the young man who so desperately wants to learn to be himself…yet not knowing what to do or how to do it. My absence from this picture allows me to imagine where I fit in and how I change the dynamic. This family…my family… has had to deal with a lot of changes lately…thankfully, children…and adults are capable of adapting.
I love this picture because this is the family I fell in love with and the family I married. I never imagined how much I would love Tisha…and I never imagined how much I would love her children. A picture does say a thousands words…yet to me this picture says one word only…love.
1. “Speakers Give Sound Advice”. Syracuse Post Standard (page 18). March 28, 1911.
2. A renovated rice plantation from the 1700-1800s that is now in the process of rebuilding the actual slave village, with chapel, and providing detailed insight into what life on a rice plantation in South Carolina was like. There is nothing more beautiful and foreboding as this plantation. Very much worth the stay.