The afternoons that I spend with my eighty something year old Mom have so many cherished memories of the simple stories that she shares of her youth and courtship with my Father. One afternoon we were going through some photographs from her childhood. This is always one of my favorite pastimes with her. With a smile on her face she reminisces through the photographs and I watch in delight the joy in her expression as they bring her back to the moments they were taken. We come across a family portrait that was taken when she was about five years old. I notice that no one is smiling, they actually look upset. I bring this to her attention and after a pause and a slight smile she remembers. “The photographer just did not know how to handle a very unhappy toddler” she says as she stares at the youngest of her sisters. Even though it was a family portrait with no smiles, the memory back to that specific moment put a smile on my Mom’s face.
It made me think of the family portraits that I have of my own family and the joy they still bring me. Climbing up a rocky trail to a waterfall with my young daughters is a very memorable occasion. Dressed in clothing suitable for a family portrait but not for navigating the upward climb to our location made our voyage very interesting. Holding hands in a chain like formation so no one would slip my husband and I helped the kids over the slippery moss. Once we found the perfect location, we posed on a rock that had been warmed by the sun’s rays peaking through the pines. The cool mist from the waterfall gently caressed us as we coerced the kids to listen to directions. Once we got the family portrait that I wanted so much, we let the kids take their shoes off and wade in the shallow pools of water.
Another family portrait at a destination dear to us was at the beach we spent many summer vacations. My daughter’s were older now and at the age that they had must to say about what they wanted to wear. As we waited for the photographer we enjoyed a simple picnic on the beach. As you know, the beach can create disasters for a family portrait. A balmy beach breeze can quickly turn into a gust of wind creating havoc with young girls’ waist length hair. The only thing that can do more damage is hairspray. My daughter, thinking she could tame her long locks kept spraying the hairspray. Hairspray and wind, more hairspray and more wind. You get the picture. “Big Hair” and unhappy teenagers. Retreating to the dunes, where the wind was minimal, we were able to capture an image of a happy family, proudly to be displayed in the place of honor in our home.
As with the moments spent with my Mom enjoying the memories of yesterday, I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to go back down memory lane through my family photographs and once again enjoy the memories we created so many years ago. I honestly believe the photographs of our past allow the memories to come to life to be enjoyed again and again.