You can imagine Austin’s excitement when he got his first two days of leave from his first year in the Merchant Marines and Karen told him they’d be going for family portraits for part of that time. Fortunately portrait work with Jennifer DiDio Photography is full of laughter and little surprises along the way, so the time became an opportunity for more bonding for the Butt family that so clearly enjoys their time together.
There’s a strong compulsion in us mother’s to hold on tightly to the beauty of the family we have invested the last 20 years of our life in. While Ian is finishing his last year at the University of Delaware and Austin is beginning his service in the United States Merchant Marine Academy, it likely feels like the next chapter of life is starting, before there was time to finish the last. Yet, time marches forward and it’s pretty clear Tom and Karen are embracing each step of it with their boys.
Karen and Tom celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary days before our portrait time together. This year they will also mark their milestone 50th birthday as well. The natural and easy affection Karen and Tom share is quite a testament to a marriage reaching this milestone mark, especially as the children are flying from the nest. Laughter appears to be the glue that binds these four which made them a delight to photograph.
Watching Tom and Karen enjoy their slideshow was really cool as well as their portrait gallery included several funny outtakes from our time together, so the laughter mixed with the tears. We even Face-timed & skyped in with the boys through part of the time to share in the excitement at the reveal. Tom was so sweet to tell Karen he wanted to see her portrait on their walls.
Ian brought such a smooth coolness to his portraits that we all think upon graduation he should step into some Vanity Fair modeling time! I told Karen he has about the best head of hair I’ve ever seen on a human being! Love that these two didn’t come to the portraits begrudgingly, but instead embraced the time and made awesome memories with their family the whole time! They were happy to muck through the mud and think outside the box with me a little to preserve the beauty you see below.
Austin is holding his grandfather’s flag from his service in France during WWII. The flag was awarded to Tom’s grandmother in 1944 in memory of her late husband George who sacrificed his life on the battlefields of France while in the army. This flag covered Tom’s grandfathers coffin. He was one of the countless men who whose spilled blood on the battlefields would mean he would never meet his son born back in the States while he served and died abroad. An entire generation of little boys and girls would only know of their fathers through the stories that soldier friends brought back to the States. However, we see George’s legacy carried on today in Austin’s military service.
The military calling runs deep in Austin’s blood, as Karen’s father, Harry Von Sas also served in the Navy during WWII. He recently passed away and a flag was presented to Karen’s mother in honor of his WWII service record. Austin and his grandad shared this special connection that was unique to them and they spent wonderful time in conversation about the Navy and ships. This will be a cherishing memory that Austin one day will pass on to his own children. Actually his grandfather’s final “real” conversation with Austin while Austin was home on a break was a week before he passed away. The anticipation of Austin’s pending visit seemed to rally Karen’s dad to hold on a bit longer. The flag is being preserved in a memory shadow box with the medals of honor.
The pride that Karen and Tom feel for their boys is plainly written on their faces. I’ll close with Tom’s words re this portrait below that will hang in his office, “this is who I have raised my sons to be.”