‘I’ve watched my dad’s eyes glaze over as he called forth a lifetime of memories that didn’t require a photo to enjoy.’: Woman warns, ‘don’t miss the magic of the moment’

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“‘Achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith.’

That’s inscribed in the monument for the Wright Brothers in Kitty Hawk. Those men undoubtedly had some adventures worth hearing about.

I’ve had a keen fascination with old folks, old buildings, old things, and old stories for as long as I can remember. There is something mesmerizing about a person’s eyes when they slip from reality into a memory. Generations before us had stories worth telling but I fear that might not be the case for a generation who has photo and video footage of every mundane accomplishment. ‘Look what I made for dinner.’

I am 100% guilty of missing the ‘magic’ of the moment for the sake of documenting it. I fear that as memories fade, I might forget something worth remembering. I may be right but I think the real question is, will it be a worthwhile exchange?

I have a photo of Pa balancing on a steep roof in Dayton, Ohio (ironically, the same town the Wright brothers grew up and owned their bicycle shop in). He was a roofer for most of his life.

Courtesy of Raquel McCloud

I have a blurry picture of him holding up a handful of Canadian bills because when he was 16 or 17, he crossed the border to work on the pipeline. He lied about his skillset but once they discovered his ignorance, he had already convinced them he was a fast learner and a hard worker so they let him stay. He worked 12-15 hour days, 7 days a week, and when the job was finally over, he paid cash for a new car and totaled it before the month was up.

Courtesy of Raquel McCloud

I’ve watched his blue eyes glaze over in revere as he called forth memories in the Florida Everglades, balancing on logs with a chainsaw strapped to his back. They had to cut down trees and avoid the alligators. He has laughed about bar room pranks and cringed over barroom brawls, a run-in with the ‘Dayton Outlaws,’ and the mobster that showed up with a trunk full of money and was found shot dead in the small town car lot a few days later. When he was in the talking mood, he would share a lifetime of stories that didn’t require a photo album to enjoy.

Pa isn’t the only person I’ve sat with as they wove together the stories of their youth. The truth is, not all of the stories were wholesome or kind. They weren’t all politically correct or even decent but they were real.

I enjoy the photographs I have of a time I only know through stories but I can’t help but wonder if the stories of my generation have been silenced because we no longer document a life but instead try to live a life worth documenting?

For the past 3 years, Casey has worked so many jobs while we’ve traveled. He has come home with stories worth telling but no photos to remember them by. Today, as we were driving through a town he asked, ‘Do you want to see what I’ve been working on?’ He took us to the Wright Brothers National Monument and showed us the roads he’s helped pave.

I took a photo.”

Courtesy of Raquel McCloud
Courtesy of Raquel McCloud

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Raquel McCloud, 31, of North Carolina. Follow her family journey on Instagram here and her website here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories from Raquel here: 

‘He never asked why we needed the help, he simply said, ‘Things will get better.’: After a miscarriage and husband’s layoff, woman says, ‘Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.’

‘It’s important they can come to you and ask what a ‘BJ’ is and if it can give you an STD. Yes, I said BJ.’: Mom explains the importance of answering kids’ sex questions

‘Age doesn’t matter, you consented.’ It wasn’t a stranger or a creepy cousin. It wasn’t forceful, or a textbook case of victim and prey.’: Child abuse survivor cautions others during quarantine, ‘Home isn’t always safe’

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