The photos I am about to share with you are images of a beautiful family, a beautiful child and an amazing couple. I’ve been taking the Ganac – Khivtrakoun Family Photos for some time now, but this was the first time I’ve met Grandpa Mony and Grandma Dany. I knew from the moment I met them, that there was something very special about them and I wanted to get to know them more.
Mony and Dany have been married for many, many years and photographing them gave me an opportunity to see something beyond their smiles. He touched her with a sense of carefulness, delicacy and respect that is hard to miss while she rested her hand on him with such comfort, trust and security that for a brief period of time, I wish that when I get older, I will have what they have too.
Mony and Dany met on their last year of high school when their schools merged together. They lost contact after graduation and it wasn’t until 4 years later, when Mony, moved to the city (in Cambodia) and accidentally met Dany’ uncle that they reunited. They got married on August 8, 1970.
In 1975, the clandestine Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia and Mony was separated from his wife and their children who ran to the jungle to hide and lived in various camps to survive. Eventually, they managed to reunite and eventually move to the United States.
They have found new hope and a new life here since. Sadly, in 1999, Dany suffered a sever stroke and had to stay at a nursing home and then a rehabilitation center for a very long period of time. The entire family was devastated but they never left her side. Mony watched over his wife and made it his reason for existence. Their bond as a family just got stronger. A few years later, the family once again experienced a traumatic event: Dany got into a bad car accident. But she pulled through. Dany recovered, and Mony and their sons made sure that she was nursed back to health. They never waivered in their hope.
Fast forward to our photo session. I watched Sochea and Cheryl tend to their little girl, Maddie. I saw how Grandpa Mony and Grandma Dany held and looked at their granddaughter. I observed how they ALL interacted with each other.
Then I realized that this was not just about a family photo session. This was about a celebration of relationships, of triumphs over challenges. Mony and Dany’s love for each other overflows on their children and their families and I’m sure on the people they meet and whose lives they touch by the example of their union.
As Cheryl shared with me:
“Owen, I've never seen a family this close, filled with love... Being a part of Sochea's family made me learn so much about family, love, hope and more..... I feel blessed everyday!”
Amen to that.
To Sochea, Cheryl and Maddie: Thank you once again for the opportunity.
To Mony and Dany: Thank you for sharing your story with me and for inspiring me. Happy 41st Anniversary and may you have a wonderful time in Paris!