The Greatest Woman I Know

An amazing woman who touched everyone she came in contact with was mostly unaware of her gift.  Today as I reflect on this woman I miss so much I am reminded of all that she embodied.  She was kind, brilliant, hard working, generous of spirit and had a gift for helping people.  When she was diagnosed with terminal cancer 4 1/2 years ago it was a shock.  I battled back and forth if this was a gift or a curse to have the information.   The little voice in my head even on the the worst days kept saying “this is a gift”.  And in fact it was for me as much as for her.  The woman who never knew the impact she had on people had letter after letter roll in all starting in pretty much the same manner… “I don’t know if you remember me but…”  and on and on they would detail how this woman had touched their lives in some highly impactful way with guidance or counseling.  She had spent most of her adult life working for Federal Express, the last 10 of those years in the corporate office only settling in North Carolina one year when she was diagnosed.   In one of my discussions with one of the VP’s at Fedex he commented how when she had decided to come back to Memphis for a week to say goodbye to everyone they had to hold the event off site because they couldn’t find a space big enough within the company.   He described how literally it was like Santa Claus with Mary sitting in the chair and a long line that wrapped around the building each person waiting to share with her a final farewell.  Her response to me was “I don’t get what the big deal is?”

The big deal is that most people don’t take the time or effort to really help those in need or perhaps they don’t have the insight to help.  And some just don’t think it is their business.  She was always there with an intuitive way of reading whomever she was with and being able to determine exactly what that person needed.  She was always hard on herself and quick to criticize never really knowing the impact she had on people.

And so this brings me to to how this amazing person relates to my photography.  This wonderful woman was my mother.  I only hope to be half the woman she was in her life.   Growing up I was always involved in one form or art or another whether it be drawing, painting, or dance.  I entered contest after contest usually coming in 2nd or 3rd – never first.   When a friend of my Mother’s was over she asked me in front of my mother, “So do you plan to make a career out of your art?”  I quickly replied “NO! It’s just fun.”  My mother shocked asked me why.  My response. “Don’t you remember Mom?  In 6th grade you told me it would be a great hobby but not a job.”  I didn’t think it was a big deal at the time but it devastated my Mother that she with one comment had changed the path of my life.   But she hadn’t really… God puts you where you are supposed to be regardless of these things.

So I went to college and joined the ranks of Corporate Management.  But when my husband and I were engaged I knew I wanted to stay home with our children but we also didn’t want our lifestyle and income to change that drastically.  So with a background in photography thanks to my Grandfather and some continued education to learn digital I opened Diane McKinney Photography (even BEFORE I was Diane McKinney!)  A decision I have never regretted.

Weeks before my Mother’s death she said to me, “I am really glad you are finally doing something with your art.”  —–     Me too Mom.

I love and miss you…. your daughter.

My Mom and Grandfather

Sliding down the dunes in West Texas the year I was born

Mom with the Grand kids (my brother’s children)

Me and Mom on my Wedding Day

Mom with my oldest daughter

Mom hugging Grandchild 7mths before she passed

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