I've wanted to write this post for a long time, and was reminded to do it recently when my mum asked me to scan some old snapshots of my family. Amongst them was a photograph of my grandmother with her first baby (the first of nine!). This photo haunts me. I see myself in her, I see my son in her son, but most of all I know how she feels. I see the delight on her face as she looks at her first-born and know that utter infatuation with that little boy. I also love the shadow of my grandfather, obviously using his old box brownie, given the way he's standing :o) That little boy is now 77, and my grandmother passed in 1999 (just months after meeting my first-born, I'll attach that photo too), but what it brings home to me is the importance of a photograph. It not only shows you how your family looked, or where they lived, or what clothes they wore. It binds you to them in ways you never imagined. I knew her as an already old woman. To be given the gift of seeing my grandmother as a new mum is incredible. The cheapest and easiest time machine ever made, and one that you can travel in every time you pass that photo on your sideboard. If I can capture even one iota of my life to give to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the same manner then I know I've done my job, and hopefully I've done the same for your families as well.
Carney (our nickname for her) with my first-born, Morgan (1999) Please excuse the woeful scan, it's an old scan from a very yuck scanner!
One of the things that goes through my head almost daily is the importance of making time stand still every now and then. You'll know it when it's time. There comes a day when you say 'he's grown so fast, he'll be walking before we know it', or 'I can't believe she's lost her first tooth, she was only just teething!'. A scene from the movie Dead Poet's Society replays in my head, it had a big impact on me at the time and still does to this day. It's the scene where Mr Keating (Robin Williams) takes the boys into the hall to look at the trophy cases. He gets them to lean in close to see the photos of the boys that have gone through the school before, and whispers...
"They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? --- Carpe --- hear it? --- Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary."
I found in looking through the old photos of my family this scene came to mind again and again. These photographs that were in some instances over 100 years old of babies, families, their houses, their new car, the places they'd visited...those things, those memories, and those people are all now gone. Not forgotten, and they live on in our genes to surprise us from time to time, but in their snapshots we have 'some' record. A way to reach back and see and feel those things that tie us together as family and as humans. I just don't think there is anything more valuable :o)
Thanks for listening to me ramble :o) It must be the weather, the whisper of spring and new things to come!