Tall Heights

The Mountain

[Acoustic In The Attic]

"The Mountain" was inspired by a photograph of a friend's grandfather on his last day, sitting in a chair and looking at the Green Mountains of Vermont. We never knew the man, but the photo said so much. When we decided to film a live video for "The Mountain" in Paul's attic, we invited fans to send us their special photos and stories of friends and loved ones who had passed away so we could include them in the video.

We were so moved by the photos and stories that we wanted to share some of them with you. Each photo has its own aching beauty. They remind us of the connections we all share, and the way we can preserve the presence of another within the eternal natural world.

Thank you to everyone who shared a photo and a memory. - Tim & Paul

This is my favorite photo of my Aunt Norma, my mother's sister. It's a photo from the 80's, with her son on her shoulders. Norma was my "cool aunt"...she was beautiful, adventurous, warm and so much fun. She was both a farmer, and a nurse practitioner. She lived many states away, and I looked forward to her yearly visits with excitement, even into adulthood. It just felt SO good to be around her, and I know many people felt this way. She passed away March 7, 2018, long before anyone was ready. - Kristen

My mom was insanely good—her life was all about fighting for people who need it most. She worked as a teacher in a prison in Texas until I was born in 1999, then she stayed home to raise me and my 3 siblings while we were all young. She got diagnosed with stage iv breast cancer in 2006 and beat the hell out of it for 13 years. I would come into her hospital room and meet people from all walks of life over the course of those years—some high schoolers that she would mentor, some friends from different periods of her life that would fly in to sleep on the hospital couch next to her, some off-duty nurses who would stay after their shifts because they wanted to talk with her. It was so cool. Mom passed away in January of 2019 and didn’t leave much behind—she used her life savings to buy cars for my siblings and I, beds for anyone she could find that needed one, Lasik eye surgery for a young nurse who was having problems with her vision. She gave me her engagement ring a few weeks before she passed. She was such a badass, I wish I could just tell all the stories. 2500 people attended her funeral, and more wrote us about how they wished they could come. I miss her so much and I love her dearly. She was an awesome mom. - Peyton

This is a photo of baby me and my grandpa. I call him 公公(Gong Gong). He passed away almost 5 years ago, but I still smile when I remember his cackle of a laugh. Although I wasn’t able to relate to him on a deeper emotional level similar to many others in traditional Asian families, I know he loved me. He loved me so much. In one of the last times I saw him he told me that all he wanted was for me to do things that made me happy, and I took that to heart. I continue to feel his love and spirit whenever I feel down. 

He worked as a security guard at a local university in Hong Kong way into his 60s until his cancer didn’t allow him. Only when he passed did we realize how profound of a role he played for the students at the University. We heard anecdotes from couple dozen of students at his wake telling of the times Gong Gong provided them with a listening ear when they had no one else to confide in. 

I chose this photo because it shows how he showed his love to me and his students - he provided a safe and understanding space for us to be ourselves.

I miss him, but I’m sure his spirit and energy is not far away. I feel immense gratitude to have experienced his love. xx - Minnie

This photo is of my best friend, Saron. We went to college together in Buffalo. He played Football and I was on the Women's Rugby team. We had absolutely no friends in common but grew very close. Sometimes when schoolwork and sports became too much, we would drive to Niagara Falls and walk along the water. I took this photo on our last trip together. 

We often worried together about our futures. But it just so happens that following graduation, we both had big plans lined up. Both of us had never been to Texas and yet somehow our post-graduation plans both had us heading there. I got a job teaching through Teach for America in Houston, and he got an exciting engineering internship just outside Houston. He headed down two weeks before me, warning me about the weather, and making plans to be there together. 

A week before I moved my entire life to Houston, and just a week after he landed there - Saron died. He had a heart condition, and his heart gave out on him while playing basketball at the rec center. I never got to say goodbye. 

Saron was my best friend. Together we navigated strange social circles in college, talked about the injustices of the world, and planned our futures together. I miss him every day, he was a gift to the world. - Claire

This is my mother; Katharine Roberts, who passed away from breast cancer at the age of 58 at the end of 2019. She was loving, spontaneous, creative, adventurous, and silly. She could also be disorganized, chaotic, and overreactive; things I both loved and hated about her. After being a stay at home mom, she worked for various non-profits that help served underprivileged communities, and spent a lot of time working with refugees in Lowell. She was raised by two professional musicians (violinist and pianist) and was an excellent classical pianist herself; I never realized until recently how special it was to have grown up listening to her play Chopin and Debussy every day. She introduced me to Darlingside, and their music led me to yours. I fell in love with your music and was able to introduce it to her, and it was something special we got to share together. I had always raved to her about how amazing it was to see Tall Heights live, and we had always hoped to go together sometime, but unfortunately weren’t able to make that happen before she passed.

I love this photo because I think it encapsulates an understanding that I had after she died and that many young adults probably have at some point. There are so many moments in childhood when you feel like you’re conquering things totally independently in your own little body, and then you grow up and realize that your parent was standing right there, watching over you the entire time. I was 24 when I lost her, and I still think of times in my 20s that I thought I was doing everything alone but she was still right behind me, just like in this photo. It perfectly encapsulates her love, and I still feel her there supporting me many days. - Isabel

My grandfather inspires me to this day, and this is one of the most precious photos I have of us together. He grew up in the countryside of Taiwan and worked incredibly hard to support his family and help my father come to the US, where I was born. This photo reminds me of his care and the ways he literally carried me on his back when I was little and the ways his spirit figuratively still does. I keep this as my phone screen as a reminder of him and all those who have supported me to where I am today.

Funny side note: you can see that my haircut and bangs in this photo are rather unfortunate...One day I randomly decided to chop off the front pieces of my hair, stuffed the pieces under the couch, and hoped no one would notice. My hair had to be rescued but some parts were beyond saving, making for some funny photos of bowl cuts today. In a way, it is another reminder of how my grandfather loved me and supported me no matter what flaws I had. - Josephina

My Uncle Paul is my reminder that life and love are complicated, but always worth experiencing. In 2002 he unfortunately took his own life. He and I share the same birthdate and growing up this made me feel so bonded to him. The photo I shared is from my first birthday (I think it was a blast!) But this bond went beyond a birthday; we made each other laugh, went for drives, and he was always there for a strong hug. My favorite memory is arriving back home after grabbing lunch together and "My Girl" by the Temptations came on the radio. Even though we were in the driveway, he insisted we sit and listen. I can close my eyes and see him serenading me. - Kirsten

These are my grandparents Audrey and Joseph Montague on their wedding night in 1951. They were so much in love and were simply known to all as Audrey and Joe, one never mentioned without the other. My grandfather passed due to complications with diabetes in 2000 and my grandmother followed him in 2017. They were both driving forces in my life encouraging me to always pursue my studies and my dreams, helping me to make a career out of what I love. They instilled in me a since of family and faith that I will never forget. I still have a voicemail saved from my grandmother wishing me a happy birthday just a month before she passed. It is one of my most prized possessions. - Katy

This is my maternal grandfather Bill McCloud who passed away in August 2020 due to the Cornavirus. He is one of the 500,000 bright lights extinguished too soon during this awful pandemic. My grandfather loved cats and he is pictured here with his favorite, Baby. My grandfather raised my mom knowing full well that he was not her biological father, but he signed her birth certificate and kept this family “secret” until just a few years ago. He spared my mother the pain and hardship of growing up fatherless when he very easily could have walked away. If that isn’t devotion and duty personified, I don’t know what is. My grandfather taught me to love baseball and playing outdoors. His quiet reverence for things and his slower pace developed growing up rural Missouri showed me that patience is truly a virtue and one I will continue to work hard at in his memory. - Katy 

Her name was Toni Lilien (I called her Baba). She was born in Poland and managed to survive WW2 despite starvation and more details that I’ll spare you. During the war, she was separated from my Grandfather for 8 years, neither knowing if the other was alive. One of my grandfather’s siblings found my grandmother’s name in a list of survivors at a DP (displaced persons) camp and they eventually reunited and immigrated to Buffalo, New York.

I only got to bask in the unconditional love of my grandmother for 8 short years of my life until lung cancer stole her away. She died 29 years ago and I’m still crying as I’m writing this. 

She loved my sister and I more than words and spoiled us rotten (notice the lollipop I’m eating in the pic). When we visited Buffalo from Toronto, my sister and I would sleep over and she would give us these little tin bowls with MnMs to eat while we watched cartoons before breakfast. When we left, she would load us up with treats, sugar cereal, etc, all the things that were no-nos at our house. 

I’ve never really gotten over the injustice of her death. My family has told me my whole life that I’m just like her yet I barely got to know her at all.

I lost my Baba, but I need my mom. You could donate a kidney, since you only need one! To learn more, please visit kidneydonor.ca and request a cheek swab today! - Tamara

My brother-in-law Jerrod Taylor, passed away by suicide. He was my best friend, how I met my husband (his brother), and so dearly missed. He was a hella good skateboarder, had such a sensitive and compassionate soul, and plagued with epically good hair. Unfortunately, that sensitive soul was burdened with depression, pain for the world’s suffering, and heartache that consumed his thoughts and we lost him on July 11, 2009.  

This pic from Bonnaroo is one of my favorites of him. Celebrating great music and community in an epic rainbow web captures the essence of Jerrod perfectly for me. - Sam

If you'd like to share a memory and a photo of a loved one with us, we'd love to see it and share it with the Tall Heights community. Post them on Instagram with the hashtag #makingeyesatyou and we'll share them in our Stories.

Please send us an e-mail if you'd prefer to share them privately.