By now, you’ve certainly figured out that I have a great love of photography. It’s a passion I got from my maternal grandfather, Leonard.
A few years ago, I was blessed enough to sit by his bedside and hold his hand as he passed away. Just days before he had suffered a stroke and as he took his last breath he was surrounded by his family in a room filled with incredible love.
My mom, aunts, and uncle decided that it was only appropriate that I should keep all of his cameras and gear. They’ve been on display in my home ever since. Every time I walk past them I am reminded of how much I have been loved in my life.
Every time I dust the lenses or pick up one of the bodies I recall how many times we sat as kids and watched slide shows (the real ones with real slides–no digital phooey) of my mother & Aunt Mickey at Disneyland or riding motorbikes across the California desert. I think about how he held these cameras in his hands and captured some of his favorite memories of his own family.
I think about lucky I am that I get to remember camping trips and sleeping under the stars and fishing on Lake Humphreys.
I think about his vegetable garden and learning some of the most practical lessons about life from watching him prepare, plant, harvest and rest.
I think about the quilt rack he made me with his own hands and the simple joy he found in making Spam salad sandwiches and in wearing his favorite overalls.
I think about the Bible he bought me and inscribed when I was 15 years old, encouraging me to always keep my eyes on the Lord. In my mind’s eye, I can see the look of pride & joy on his face as I sang “specials” in our small church in Marlow, Oklahoma.
I recall driving him around in Spokane, Washington the summer my mother got remarried while in the middle of my second divorce and telling him how sorry I was that I had surely disappointed him. I will never forget him grabbing my hand and telling me that he had never been more proud of me.
I recall the last partially-lucid moments of his life and how he recognized my face out of so many he did not. I smile when I think about how we laughed about ugly chickens and how I had the honor of writing his eulogy.
Leonard Wortham was an incredible man of God who loved his family, his country, and believed in grace above all things.
I may have his cameras but what was truly given to me was home, legacy, and love beyond compare.