The Snyders are a very special family. Much like mine, they have one child, Karl. His dad, John, asks him why he’s a hipster. “Because I care about things.” The boys goof off, and Kathy beams and laughs in amusement.
Karl is 5 years younger than me, but we both attended the Austin Waldorf School. Actually, both Karl and I started our education Montessori style, then moved to Waldorf after some time. That’s where I met him! Aside from knowing Karl from school, we knew the Snyders from the annual caroling party held a few days before Christmas. I remember John’s beautiful tenor and the way he would expertly guide us through Carol of the Bells. And I remember Kathy’s hair. Always white and the same shape as my mom’s, which is why I laughed when Karl patted his mom’s head…I sometimes do that to mine because it’s just so springy!
Karl is in college at Carlton College (I know, I know, he totally should have gone to Karlton Kollege), Kathy is a gifted marriage counselor, and John has been a teacher at the Austin Montessori School for about a decade. He’s also a very talented poet. I’ve heard him read some of his poetry and haikus and I have never been so engrossed in poetry in my life.
In the last couple of years, John has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the muscles. Knowing the everlasting impact photographs can have, and with the help of my Aunt celeste and boss Clara (it’s a small world, folks), I arranged to gift the Snyders with a collection of family photographs. Never having photographed a family facing this kind of situation, I asked Kathy if I needed to do anything differently than what I normally do. She said she didn’t think so, and that I was the love photographer…that the three of them are so open with one another during this challenging time that the love is pouring out of them and all around them. And she was absolutely right.
We talked about their favorite vacations, and John showed me the rose bush his fellow Montessorians said he couldn’t grow. He also showed me the compost bin, which is hosted by some fabulous worms, although they weren’t in the mood to show themselves that day. Then we hung out on the swings, sang songs, and laughed.
Knowing how much these photographs mean to the Snyders is my reason for living. My heart is full, and I’ve done my part. <3