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07/30/2007 02:11:23 AM · #1
I've been getting a growing list of customers lately, but had set aside this weekend as family time. Having an injured shoulder also meant that we have pushed most jobs out until later next week. We were meandering through the grocery store this evening, just taking our time for once & enjoying a simple task with our daughters, when I got a text message from an old acquaintance. She wanted to know if we would consider doing a wedding tonight - AND if we could do it for FREE!!! You gotta be kidding me, right?!?!?!

We dropped our daughters off at my mother's house, threw all the gear in the trunk, hoped we hadn't forgotten anything crucial, and were grateful that we'd both taken showers, just before leaving for the grocery store. With vague directions to a town we didn't know, and our stomachs growling loudly, there wasn't even time to shave my scruffy face. A call from the customer en route helped, but we were already 20 minutes late & everyone was waiting on us.

Talk about walking into a situation blind... the rural location (a small trailor at the end of a dirt road), had been transformed in a pleasant surprise. You see, the bride to be is a cancer victim, with freshly burned skin from her most recent radiation treatment. After anxiously hoping for good test results, doctors told her yesterday that she has 'less than a month to live'. Our bride and groom had been hoping to marry after her recovery - those plans were sped up as of noon yesterday. Vendors were called, and asked if they might be able to show up on short notice. Not only did every piece and accessory arrive on time, but every single invoice said 'no charge'. Some vendors didn't have any workers available, but even they allowed the use of their equipment for free. The heat was sweltering - the bride had to climb slowly indoors more than once to escape and recuperate momentarily. I had to run to our vehicle and change shirts three times from sweating so much and was afraid of passing out at one point (dehydration).

Having nearly lost my own mother to cancer a couple years ago, I had to stop shooting a couple times. You see, Vicki is not a young woman - her 'baby' is a newly-sworn-in U.S. Marine, and her eldest have preteen children. The ceremony? Not a hint of tears from yours truly. Cutting of the cake? Laughs and smiles! (The groom actually had a cake all his own, in the shape of a toolbox!!) But when Lisa, a grown woman & Vicki's only daughter, stood with her mother in front of a large crowd and sang Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings"... it took all I had to stay professional. A few minutes later, her youngest (the Marine) announced that he too had a song to share with his mother - and held her close while singing Blake Shelton's 'The Baby* ... I couldn't take any more, laid the camera down, and cried right along with them.

It's after 2 a.m., I'm physically and emotionally drained - but so honored to have been asked to help tonight. Was it fate that I had a free schedule this weekend? I don't know my friend, I just don't know. Just please remember that 'everything happens for a reason', trust that tomorrow is another day to treasure, and hold your loved ones tight. I may not sleep at all tonight, but I'm going upstairs to watch my own babies sleep for a while. Please, keep this family in your thoughts, that they may have as much joy as possible with Vicki's final days. If you can spare just a little more, keep me in your thoughts, that my work might bring them just a little comfort, and that my efforts bring them a smile now and then.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/47534/thumb/563308.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/47534/thumb/563308.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

* - A country song about a man being the famliy 'baby', always spoiled by his mother, who doesn't make it home in time when she dies suddenly... Lyrics here

Message edited by author 2007-07-30 09:44:16.
07/30/2007 02:20:51 AM · #2
Prayers to all involved...left you comment on pic...
07/30/2007 02:38:43 AM · #3
I'm proud of what you (and all the others working for them) did for them. You are a kind human being, and even though your history may seem to have inclined you to do this wedding pro bono, it took a lot of class and empathy.

I hold you and your wife in high regard.

Great shot, too!

Edit to add: My prayers are of course with this very proud young woman and her husband. I can only hope that she outlives her diagnosis, even if only for an extra month or year. It's nice that she's not simply living to die, but in fact is doing quite the opposite.

Message edited by author 2007-07-30 02:41:05.
07/30/2007 03:18:50 AM · #4
As I read the beginning of your story, I am sorry to admit, I was thinking, "why not just act like you didn't see the message till much later when it would be too late?" And as I read farther into your wonderful post it really smacked me where it hurts.

I am a Christian, and try hard to lead a Christian life, but not knowing all the details I had already made my mind up that I would have rather been with my family instead of doing a last minute job...and for free on top of it.

I don't know if you also knew all the details when you got the text message but you are still amazing for doing it for them. It is something their family will be able to cherish now and long after her much too soon departure.

Hats off to you and your wife, you are a great example to others, especially your kids, whether you are trying to be or not.
07/30/2007 05:23:28 AM · #5
Originally posted by sabphoto:

As I read the beginning of your story, I am sorry to admit, I was thinking, "why not just act like you didn't see the message till much later when it would be too late?" And as I read farther into your wonderful post it really smacked me where it hurts.

I am a Christian, and try hard to lead a Christian life, but not knowing all the details I had already made my mind up that I would have rather been with my family instead of doing a last minute job...and for free on top of it.

I don't know if you also knew all the details when you got the text message but you are still amazing for doing it for them. It is something their family will be able to cherish now and long after her much too soon departure.

Hats off to you and your wife, you are a great example to others, especially your kids, whether you are trying to be or not.


What he said.

Both the bride and her family, as well as you and your family, are in my prayers today. You are, and will continue to be, blessed by your kindness and your example. I read this through tears, and thank you for your story this morning, it was a nice way to start the day.

Linda
07/30/2007 05:39:09 AM · #6
Wow! Prayers for all of you. I know that they will find great joy in your work, and that the memories you captured will serve as a happy reminder for the whole family.


07/30/2007 05:50:11 AM · #7
Damn...now you got tears from me.
07/30/2007 06:42:43 AM · #8
Wow, that's just an amazing story. Thanks for sharing.
07/30/2007 06:43:59 AM · #9
Tears here also. Destiny, pure destiny. Unselfish act to be rewarded. Prayers for all.
07/30/2007 06:55:30 AM · #10
ya'll are the people that keep this world spinning in the right direction. a finer example of giving back is hard to find.
07/30/2007 07:15:50 AM · #11
Bravo. I hope that if I'm ever presented with an opportunity to act with such grace and class, that I do the same. Thank you for sharing.
07/30/2007 08:35:52 AM · #12
There are special people in the world who redeem the mass of humanity in the hearts of people. By their unselfish acts, they let others know there is goodness and offer the hope that good will win over evil. You, sir, are one of those special people.
07/30/2007 09:55:47 AM · #13
Billy, you don't know how proud I was of you yesterday for how hard you worked in the heat to get the pictures for this family. While I watched you and given the circumstances of the couple, I couldn't help but think of our love for one another and how I would feel if I knew I only had a short time to live to enjoy that love. Your determination to get Vicki's Special Day captured for her was awesome!!!! I am so very proud to be a part of "Us", as a couple and as partners in our business. You amaze me over and over every day. I love you!!!
07/30/2007 10:14:27 AM · #14
A heartwarming story. I am glad you were there for them :-)

R.
07/30/2007 10:21:23 AM · #15
Brilliant, no other words, SALUTE
07/30/2007 10:24:00 AM · #16
Congrats to you, Billy & Glenda for being such awesome people and for making that wedding day so special for the families involved. Your story, and theirs is really touching.
07/30/2007 10:29:42 AM · #17
What a great story, great job for going to do this with the info you were given. I hope your kindness is paid back to you someday. This is one more story of a miricale

*-Rich
07/30/2007 10:29:43 AM · #18
I'm crying in my coffee...Will keep all in my prayers!
07/30/2007 10:30:34 AM · #19
Awsome! Showing others kindness and love is what life is all about. What an example you set for us and for your kids. Your photography has been truely blessed.
07/30/2007 10:45:03 AM · #20
Thank you for posting this. I had a horrible last-minute call experience this weekend and was going to post about it and gripe.

I think I would rather just let this warm and sad tale of your experience stand in its stead. Thank you for sharing, I don't feel so burnt out or bitter anymore. If there are still people like you giving like this in the world, my one bad day is small bananas and there still is balance in the universe. Thank you for doing this for them. And thanks for keeping it all in perspective.

07/30/2007 10:50:31 AM · #21
Billy & Glenda, you are simply awesome. Kudos to you both for your act of selfless kindness and hope someday that comes back to you both ten fold.

-dave
07/30/2007 10:57:02 AM · #22
beautiful... thank you for sharing this. its such a great reminder to be present to the moment and to celebrate love. service to others is the best gift we can give ourselves. peace to you, yours and the happy couple.
07/30/2007 11:59:46 AM · #23
Thank you everyone, for your words of encouragement and support. As I told some of the family members yesterday "No need to thank me; just take your own opportunity to help some one when YOU get the chance."

It seems this family has had its share of heartache recently - we also learned last night that they lost an 18 month old nephew, just last week (it is still in the local news stories). Seems there is an indication of arson, and the state is investigating. So sad.

There are days I wish to be wealthy (don't we all?) - today, I wish I could be juuuust wealthy enough to donate my small photographic skills to families such as these, on a full time basis...

Message edited by author 2007-07-30 12:09:55.
07/30/2007 12:05:04 PM · #24
What a moving story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

07/30/2007 12:31:41 PM · #25
Wow, I really can't think of anything to say. Awesome and moving story, Billy. Thanks for sharing.
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