Early in my new relationship with Sheryl, we took a weekend trip to Asheville, North Carolina with friends. In one of Asheville’s junk stores, I bought a reproduced sign that read:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take
but by the moments that take our breath away.
During my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to have my share of moments that do just that. Like the beautiful clear blue sky I saw while on a picnic at the Meriweather Lewis historic sight near Columbia, Tennessee. Or hearing a John Philip Sousa march on the Fourth of July. A Wendell Berry poem has taken my breath away as has Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto.
On a Sunday night while sitting alone in my Atlanta condo, I had another life-measuring moment.
I logged onto the web site of a Nashville art gallery owned by a family friend. When the web site opened, an x-ray photograph appeared on my screen. Simply put: it took my breath away. The melding of the photographer’s scientific creativity (his love of x-rays) with his passion for photography resulted in a beautiful floral photo.
On that Sunday night, I sucked air as I viewed the photo.
The next day, I called my Nashville friend and bought the photograph. I then had it framed, carried it to Birmingham and talked Sheryl into hanging it on her dining room wall where (I hoped) it would remind her of our blossoming relationship. The photograph was on “permanent loan” from the Wally Buckner Museum in Atlanta.
Very early in this round of our relationship, I had sent Sheryl a bouquet of white tulips upon her retirement. Not wanting to embarrass her, I had signed the accompanying card with these words: “Thank you for your 37 years of service. W.” It was only after several days passed that she figured out who had sent the tulips and she emailed me to thank me for the flowers.
When we eventually became engaged and began talking about wedding plans, Sheryl asked: “Do you think we could take out those tulips in this photo and use them in some way as a wedding motif?”
That’s when I called the photographer, Knoxville-based Don Dudenbostel, and we chatted about our using the photograph. I found Don to be engaging, kind, and open to our using the tulips as a wedding motif. “The photo is yours,” he said. “Use it in your wedding in any way you think is appropriate.”
So with the help of a friend and outstanding graphics design artist in Atlanta, Laura Nalesnik, the tulips became our symbol.
The tulips have appeared throughout our wedding communications and at the wedding reception on February 28, 2015.
We utilized the tulip design on our Save the Date card, our wedding invitations, and Thank You cards. The photo was a focal point at the groom’s table at our wedding reception
Photo by Don Dudenbostel
Last week, I received an email from The Arts Company stating that Don Dudenbostel would be present to discuss his photography with anyone interested in attending a Saturday afternoon session. Sheryl and I took advantage of this and drove to Nashville to meet Don and to thank him for the impact his photograph has had on our journey.
Sheryl, Wally, and Don Dudenbostel at The Arts Company, March 14, 2015
It’s not often that you get to thank someone in person for giving you a moment that took your breath away. We’re grateful, Don.