Will You Still Need Me When I’m 64

I always liked going to visit them when I was a kid. I couldn’t put my finger on why. They had big time rules, and big time discipline at their house, so the fact that I looked forward to being there as a kid really doesn’t make sense. But that’s how it was. I loved going to their house.

I’m talking about my aunt Carma and uncle George – my mom’s sister and her husband. I would go over to play with my cousin, but I always found myself drawn to the adults. I would stand there awkwardly, painfully aware of my inability to create any kind of conversation or reason for me to actually be with the adults. I remember them, pausing whatever they were doing, waiting to see how they could help me. I don’t think I knew how they could help me either. I would make up some lame thing, unable to articulate “can I just hang out with you guys” at my very young age. So I’d say my lame thing, they’d respond, and I’d go back to watch Star Trek with my cousin.

Eventually we kind of lost touch. They moved, we moved. I’d see them on Christmas occasionally, or they would stop by our house as they passed through town. By then I was a teenager and had little interest in anyone or anything that wasn’t about me – so I’d say the nice things that you say to visiting relatives, and move on. However, I still would have told you they were my favorites.

I got married, had kids, and hadn’t really spent time with them for a decade or so.

Then at the end of 2008 I had the chance to go visit them in Washington. Just me. With them. The passing of years gave me some perspective of what I’ve been drawn to my whole life. I learned that these people really love each other, and they share that love openly with those around them.

George and Carma Bingham

I made a deal with my uncle that I would shoot some photos for him (http://www.bonsaigeorge.com) in exchange for a car that I could use to tour around for a couple of days while I was in Washington. Once I got there, I went out and drove, shot photos, met cool people (all the Washington people in my blog so far are from that trip) but the best time I had was spent getting to know my aunt and uncle.

Talking to him about her. Talking to her about him. Each of them experiencing that point in life where their bodies hurt, start to betray them in certain ways, but they are so happy to be together. So happy with the life they have built together. So happy to be close to their daughter and her husband and their grandkids. So happy.

Uncle George and I were out shooting some of his bonsai trees one day, working hard to make the shots special. Aunt Carma came out, and as I turned around they were interacting with such tenderness and respect and love. I was mesmerized by the moment, and only at the last second realized that I had a camera in my hands and made this photo.

Now I know part of what has drawn me to them my whole life. They love. They love each other, and they reach out in love to those around them. Has their life been easy? Don’t think it for a minute. They have endured pain that I pray I never even approach. But a long time ago they committed to each other, committed to their relationship. Getting a glimpse of the depths of the relationship they have built has made my journey through life better.

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4 Responses to Will You Still Need Me When I’m 64

  1. George Bingham says:

    Doug, you brought tears to my eyes. You have such a sweet sensitive outlook on life. It is a joy to get to know you and Leeann now. You are a very special man!


  2. Carma Bingham says:

    I am speechless but deeply touched by your beautiful tribute to us. I am grateful to have the opportunity to get know you and LeeAnn this past couple of years too. It is a dear and special relationship for sure. Thanks for being the truly good person you are.


  3. Nanci (the daughter) says:

    They are truly wonderful people. Thank you for seeing in them what I see as well.


  4. Myrna Bingham says:

    Although it has been about 39 years since I last saw George and Carma, it doesn’t surprise me at all the love that they have and share with others. I will always remember the sparkle in their eyes and the loving energy they bestowed on all of us. Thanks for their tribute!


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