David Wesley Tonkin
On September 11, 2015 my beloved Elizabeth and I would have been married for 44 years. I did not want to just look at pictures; as I said to my friends, “I am looking for joyous recollections … not tears!”
This time I wanted to find a picture that told a whole and bold story; a picture that did not just generate a memory … it must initiate a cascade … a tumult of lovely memories of my Elizabeth!
This seemed like a fairly straightforward and pleasurable stroll down memory lane. I have a lot of pictures to choose from. We have also been blessed with thousands of photogenic opportunities surrounding family, friends, worldwide travel, wonderful holiday celebrations and a myriad of unique situations and memories. Down the Yellow Brick Road I strolled …
Some of the strong and immediate candidates were obvious …
- Pictures of Elizabeth with our two astonishing children Sean and Koren; pictures that spanned a lifetime of proud memories … pictures that shimmer in an affectionate luminosity that radiated from her caring, loving and understanding motherhood. Then the ultimately joyous addition … Elizabeth with her grandson Woods Oliver Tonkin!
- Elizabeth and friends … joyous celebrations and illustrations of the large and singular circle of her friends. Friends of all ages, many nationalities, diverse interests and unique backgrounds. Loyal friendships that blossomed in elementary school in several cases.
- April in Paris … a lovely sprite of a girl smiling and laughing with the backdrop of an exquisite springtime set among the attractions of this enchanted city.
- One unforgettable picture of a tearful yet resolute Elizabeth placing a bouquet of white roses at the foot of the WWI memorial to the South African Brigade soldiers who fought so heroically and died at Delville Wood near Longueval, in the Somme area of France. She cared so deeply, and would talk for many hours about the lessons of history.
- Happy, fist-pumping pictures during the festivals of Sean and Koren’s High School, Bachelor and Masters Graduation celebrations! Elizabeth was always totally exhilarated by these occasions!
- The serene; yet chilling picture of Elizabeth standing alone in Nelson Mandela’s tiny solitary-confinement cell on Robben Island. She was a Mandela supporter long before it became “fashionable” around the world.
- Photographs of the “Sunshine Princess” unwinding on the beaches of her treasured Outer Banks, many Caribbean islands, Mexican resorts, Bermuda’s Pompano Beach Club and many Indian Ocean and Florida vacation venues … usually with a tall frosty rum-based drink with an umbrella in it! Elizabeth always claimed that “The sunshine re-charged my batteries!”
- Hundreds of pictures that warmly and vividly illustrated the family and friends centric Thanksgiving (her favorite holiday; she said that Hallmark had not killed it yet!), Christmas, Easter, Welcome to the USA (for overseas friends), Birthday and other celebrations that Elizabeth made memorable. Her home decorations, dining table artistry and culinary feasts were epic!
- A picture of Elizabeth with wind-blown hair and a cup of coffee on the ocean-side deck of a house on Pine Island on the Outer Banks Islands in 2011. At first she was a tad annoyed that I took the picture; she had just woken, quickly made her Starbucks coffee and walked out onto the porch. It was the last day of our vacation and Elizabeth was about to embrace her very private and spiritual “farewell to the ocean”.
I chose the final one on the list. It is my personal Mona Lisa. A beautiful lady with an expression that radiates volumes of thought and emotion. The very simplicity and serenity of the image is so powerful a presence on my mind. Those huge almond eyes, like iridescent yet tranquil pools in a shady glade, say so much! I wonder … is she about to smile lovingly at me or is she a little sad as we will soon head back for the mainland and the real world? The expression is also one of compassion and love; things that so many of us were privileged to be blessed with … Elizabeth caring for us! I see and read so much from this picture.
I went looking for a picture … and I found a breathtaking collage of exquisite memories!