Before I show you this session, I need to spend a little time talking about this amazing family and how I got to know them. Lee and Rich were my (and my husband’s) bosses in college. I worked for Rich when he was Director of Admissions and I worked for Lee when she was Director of Orientation. They were the early 2000’s definition of a power couple and they were most definitely my mentors before I even knew what that meant. It was through working with them that I found my passion for higher education and learned that working in higher ed as a career was an actual THING.
I learned many life lessons and skills from them, catch phrases with a purpose that I used with my staff in the 10 years that I worked in Higher Education and still use with my children “Find a family, make a friend,” “Just because there’s food, doesn’t mean we eat,” “If you’re early you’re on time, if you’re on time you’re late and if you’re late don’t bother coming (but that’s never an option),” “If you don’t like what I cooked, we’ll just order pizza”. Just to name a few.
Lee and Rich left the college that I attended after my junior year and moved out to Indiana where Rich had taken a job. I was so upset that they were gone. As I started re-searching graduate schools, my boyfriend (now husband) put the link to Indiana State University on my desktop. I laughed at him and told him there was no way I was moving to Indiana, who moves to Indiana?! Well… I decided to apply, I was accepted and Dave and I drove out there so I could interview for my higher ed program and we stayed with Lee and Rich. As I drove back from campus after my interview to their house, I cried. I loved it there. I loved the school. The program. The people. I knew this was where I wanted to be. I knew it also meant moving 1,000 miles from home, from my family and my boyfriend of 3 years who was going to grad school in Boston. But I felt sure that this was where I needed to be.
When I arrived in August of 2005 to Terre Haute, IN – Lee and Rich met my mom and I at my apartment (with some of my stuff that I had shipped to their house), and they told my mom that they would look after me. And they were true to their word. I lost count of how many loads of laundry I did at their house, how many meals they fed me, how many times I just showed up at their house because I was tired or homesick or burnt out and they welcomed me in without a question or a second thought. They had 2 small children who I adored and they cared for me like I was one of their own. When I graduated and invited them to our wedding, they drove the 18 hours from Indiana to Massachusetts with a 6 week old baby in the car and 2 other kids under 5 just so they could be there to celebrate with us.
And when they decided to come out this year to Massachusetts to vacation, they called me and asked me if I would photograph their family. Of course. How could I not? We realized that 10 years had passed since we last saw each other in person. Those adorable kids of theirs are full blown pre-teens and teenagers – driving, working, so grown up in their own right. The first thing Lee said to me and Dave when we arrived was “we just want you to know how proud we are of you both. For everything you’ve accomplished, the life and the family you’ve built.” I have tears in my eyes even know just thinking about how huge of an impact these two incredible individuals have had on my life.
We sat down after our session (where, like old times, they fed us dinner) and we talked about our college days. We shared the lessons we had learned from them, what they had taught us and I could see that they didn’t know the impact they had had on us. I wish I had told them sooner. They shaped an integral part of who I am today as a professional and as a person and they had no idea.
So, Lee and Rich – thank you. For the support, the encouragement, the kicks in the butt, the honesty, the dinners, laundry, laughs, for being role models in life, in work, in family. For the love and care that you so willingly gave and shared for so many years. We are better people for knowing you and having you in our lives.
It was an honor and a privilege to do this session for you. Thank you for trusting me to show you my reflection of your incredible family.