I didn’t have a definition for the longest time, but in recent years it became very obvious I’m not just an introvert, I’m an introvert’s introvert. People who don’t know me well find this odd because they have seen me speak in public and I enjoy it. The bigger the group, the better. However, when I am in small clusters of people or one-on-one, I am anxious.
This was most apparent when I first met my in-laws. There wasn’t a kinder set of parents than Tom’s mom and dad. They welcomed me long before I even knew who son #2, the man who became my husband, was. They were hugs and Sunday dinners and I was scared to death when I knew a hug was coming and my happy place was with my nose in a book. Looking back, I think I felt most comfortable with fictional characters because they couldn’t reject me. I was so afraid of that. But Phil and Ruth Arduini never rejected me or my family.
Once I became an official Arduini, I still struggled. It was all me. I don’t know sports that well and especially back then, I didn’t know a lot about country music. I sure didn’t know how to play golf and once my father-in-law and husband tried to teach me, I was too intimidated and impatient.
So I took pictures.
There was something deep inside me that felt I needed to capture simple family moments for preservation. Perhaps it was because growing up we did not take a lot of pictures. Maybe because history is important to me. Whatever the case, even with my phone, it gave me something to do and made me feel less anxious. Once an event was over, I enjoyed sharing the pictures with everyone so they too had something tangible to take away.
Last week as we learned Tom’s dad passed away and I wanted to create a tribute through pictures and words, it was a comfort to know I had various pictures to draw from. Few were posed, they were just moments I snapped. In every picture he was smiling. I can remember something funny about each event. I’m so glad in what was a plan to keep me busy and less socially awkward, even with the most welcoming group you can imagine, there are visuals we can hold on to of all those fun times.
There are so many things I love about Phil Arduini, and most of those traits, Tom has as well. Phil never let me dodge a hug and over time, I not only grew comfortable receiving them, I looked forward to it. Phil and Tom share a very unique sense of humor and although we’d pretend it was the worst joke ever, I love that they never stopped the jokes. Last year the two of them giggled for weeks about Tom being my assistant while I spoke at a library about writing. Phil was so proud of that, but the two of them laughed and laughed picturing Tom walking behind me because to Phil, I was a celebrity. Thing was, in our hometown, Phil was the star because of his music. Everyone knew and loved him.
I may never be the life of any party, and I might not be the most natural hugger, but I thank God for pictures and words that I can contribute, especially when it comes to remembering a great man. There are no adequate words to describe how much he will be missed.