A beholder of a US passport and an American accent it was not easily understood by some why I would seek ‘home’ in a a seemingly far off land. I had been called selfish for for wanting to move my family across the ocean when jobs, schools, and homes could be found closer to my husband’s family. Without jobs or a place to live my husband and I took the leap across the pond. It can be quite scary and we managed it through support of many kinds, the biggest coming from the big man upstairs. I also find comfort in knowing that my father, though no longer with us since 2008, was keeping us safe. He is the one reason after all that I would need to move back home to Europe.
My father left home to join the USAF Academy at the age of seventeen and served 30+ years as an US Air Force officer and a veteran of the Gulf War in the ’90s. He did six tours in Europe: three in England, two in Italy, and one in Germany. That is roughly seventeen years living abroad and he got to see much more of the world through his work and free travel. They say a girl’s father is one of the most influential people in her life, and this is the man who shaped my life, my worldview and my love for travel. I am my father’s daughter. Returning home to Europe and living in England has been bittersweet at times. Let me clarify that statement. It has been completely sweet like Cadbury’s milk chocolate, life itself will always have challenges and stress points. The bitter part has been that my father is now no longer here to experience this part of my life with us and his grandsons.
It has been four years and half years since he was taken from this life, and that loss is still felt. When the photographs below were taken at his funeral at the USAF Academy I was crying daily. I may not cry daily today but I find little things will trigger tears over my father not being here. I was looking at photographs from a friend’s trip to Austria and Switzerland, places from which I have fond memories with my dad. In one sentence I went from the excitement of hoping to go there on our next trip, to sadness that my dad could not meet us there. I will forever have him in my heart and every trip I take will be that more meaningful for it. I just wish I could do more for my dad’s presence in my sons’ lives. So I do the best I can here in England. I have photographs of him up, trinkets from his life and we share stories about him. Some of my favourite stories are the ones my husband shares about my dad. They only knew each other for a few years through trips and rare holidays, but he became the son my dad never had. They would talk on the phone longer than my conversations with my dad. I admit I became envious of their relationship but in retrospect I am so glad that they were able to get close. I would not have wanted it any other way. To know my dad and my mum love and appreciate my husband for who he is means so much to me.
I do not have a whole lot of photographs with my dad and the last ones taken at his funeral. We had a lot of friends of my dad write, call, and visit at his memorial in Tucson, Arizona. But at his funeral we had long time friends from my dad’s time with the military in England. It meant so much to have them there for my dad and for us. Though we were all hurting inside over the sudden loss, it is nice to see the smiles in the photos because my dad was always smiling. He could find the best in everything. He could make friends with people from all backgrounds. It is that part of him I hope I can channel into my sons to carry on the ‘Nystrom’ way of life. The life of accepting others, the life of loving to travel, and to live every moment to its fullest.
*Photographs belong to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All Rights Reserved
** For more information on photographic services contact bonnie[at]bonnie-rose[dot]co[uk]