When is a red truck not a red truck? When it’s a metaphor for life. Words of wisdom from Alberta Photographer, nature lover, daughter, wife and mother.
Moving into 2019, I realize that with the simplest conversation, there has been a precious gift given to me to carry me through this year. While approaching this new year hopeful, I am filled with fear at what it may bring. With my daughters words, I’m reminded that even under the heaviest burdens, we can all dig down, find strength to lift us and remember to feel joy, even when we don’t feel happy.
While driving Regan to a friend’s house for a New Year’s sleepover, she remarked “You know what you never see any more? Red trucks.” Ray and I smiled at each other, it was a special, warm feeling that one gets from connection, from being a unit. That moment, in itself, a gift. Regan continued “All around us, you see silver trucks, black trucks, white trucks, even blue trucks, but when do you ever see a red truck?”
Ray started to laugh and replied “Look Reg, there’s one now, in the other lane.” It was so exciting, there it was – the elusive red truck! As the drive continued, we spotted red trucks sporadically; each time the truck spotting became a little event that brought us entertainment, laughter and wonder. How have we not been aware of all of the red trucks in our midst?
After picking Regan up from her sleepover, we hit the grocery. Look at that, the vehicle beside me? A one ton bright red Dodge Ram. There is no way to miss seeing it, yet how many times have I driven past a red truck, in a hurry, rushing off to something and missed the signs that it was there?
We get so busy with our day to day silver trucks, blue trucks, white trucks or black trucks and we completely ignore the signs that the red truck is there, just waiting for us to see it and rejoice in it.
This week, Regan’s older sister Callen moves out, leaving Regan the only one of our three children left at home. We are all finding it bittersweet; amidst the excitement of new beginnings is also a fear of the unknown for all of us. Regan realizes that her sister, her best friend, won’t be a shout away, won’t be there to cuddle up together and watch a movie or play guitar with her.
We are planning (silver truck), shopping (blue truck), packing (black truck) and paying (white truck). In the meantime, the red truck is popping up all over, shouting through a megaphone “see me”, “remember me”, “I’m right here – recognize me and this moment”. In the hustle and bustle, the red truck moments are not given the time and importance they deserve.
Moments replay themselves in my head; most recently – I’m lying on Callen’s bed while she sits beside me, strumming her guitar and playing me a new riff . She glances back at me over her shoulder, and the look we share communicates mutual love, joy and pride. I remember thinking to myself how I wished someone was there to photograph the moment. I don’t have the image, but I have the memory. That is my red truck, the moment in time that I’ll carry with me.
2018 was a little bit mean, but thinking back, there have been several red truck moments for me to balance that out. This could have been something as simple as Ray doing the dishes for me so that I could finish editing a gallery to serve my clients. While I was focused on serving others, my husband was serving me out of love and support. It’s a simple act, but one that deserves recognition.
One of the most memorable memories of this year is of Ray setting me up a recliner, table and umbrella on the deck outside so that I could convalesce outside after surgery. The kids would bring my horses to graze in the backyard so that I could see them, my cats all slept in my lap, by my head or by my side as the dogs slept beside my chair. In a perfect world, this is my idea of heaven and it made my recovery so much easier to bear.
We took a trip to the mountains late in the summer. The entire trip was full of red truck moments; the most memorable was breaking down on the side of a mountain with our second flat of the trip. We were stranded until some kind strangers stopped to help. Ray caught a ride with them into town to get our tire fixed and I stayed behind.
I made a few images, such as the images above and below, then sat outside the truck wrapped in a blanket, watching the sun set while the lonely voice of a wolf called to me. I’ll never forget the still quiet and the peace that came from it. The photos included here are my red truck moments, a reminder that even in an adverse situation, there is peace and beauty to be found. Every time I look at them, I hear the wolf call to me.
I don’t have a clue how to gently segue into this, so here it is. Dad is sick. Not a summer cold ill, but horrifying, terrible sick. Shortly after my surgery, we received the diagnosis that my Dad has cancer. It’s unthinkable, this man is a force of nature, stronger than anyone I know. Yet here he is, laid low by a vicious disease.
I’ve spent the last six months pretending, practicing a good game of avoidance, holding back tears. In November, that red truck hit me going 100 miles an hour and it splattered me all over the roadside. It came in the form of a presentation by Nancy Borowick at the Real Life Conference in Canmore. Nancy spoke about her parents’ battle with cancer, both at the same time. As she spoke, I was overwhelmed to the point of panic, hysteria and grief.
Before, I’d been able to shelve my pain, Nancy’s words brought it to the forefront. The only thing that kept me from falling to the floor and sobbing was the knowledge that I would be ruining her presentation. Walking out of the hall after, I could barely get one foot in front of the other, hardly function. Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by women, some who I knew, some who were complete strangers. They held me as I shook uncontrollably, cried and shared. I didn’t like that truck, but I needed it. It was a very clear signal to make the most of every moment we have, and to honour my Dad and what he is going through.
Recently, we took Dad to see an oncologist. It was emotional, exhausting and stressful. I don’t even remember all of the words we spoke. What I will always remember is Dad sitting in the chair, exhausted, hurting and scared. As I stood beside him, he reached over, grabbed my leg and squeezed a couple of times, as if to say that we are all in this together, that his amazing sense of humour is still intact and that he is going to fight. That red truck, I’ll never forget.
I am documenting more images of our family, especially Mom and Dad, as I feel that we need to be able to remember the strength of this time to ease the sorrow. I’m not ready to share them yet, but I’ll direct you to this post, written after Dad’s diagnosis. These images, taken on a whim, mean more to me than ever before, and I’m so thankful that I made them.
More specifically, recognize those red trucks for the miracles that they are. Whether it’s a loved one serving you by doing the dishes, a stranger holding a door with a smile when you’re having a bad day, or cuddling your child in your arms, no matter how old they are. Honour those red truck moments.
As 2019 enters forth, I wish you a year of peace, of joy and of unforgettable red truck moments.