When my mother passed away it was my responsibility, as an “only” child, to sort through her belongings and decide what to keep and what to discard. This looked like an overwhelming task and I didn’t look forward to it but, when I discovered several picture albums, looking through them transformed the job from a dreaded experience to one that brought back many bittersweet memories.
A well-meaning relative warned, “It’s too soon; looking at them will only hurt you, and besides, that was another lifetime. You can’t go back; just put them away for now.”
As much as I knew it would hurt to look at them, I wasn't ready to put them away just yet. So I ignored the advice and decided to chance “just a peek.”
One of the first pictures to catch my eye was of my mother and me. She wore a beautiful robe, and looked very young. On the back, in her handwriting, were the words, Sunday morning,
20, 1945. Of course she looked young; this picture was taken on
her 26th birthday.
Next, was a shot of my dad as he looked after a day at the coal mine, his face black with coal dust. A weary smile belied his trademark cheerfulness and made him look older than his years.
Many pages later, among pictures of other family members, I found more pictures of my father. On these pages, he looked altogether different; he was wearing his Sunday best, and was very handsome! There were updated snapshots of my mother, too, looking beautiful with auburn curls, an engaging smile and a slim figure. My parents were a handsome couple!
There were pictures of me at different stages of my life: baby pictures, a fifth birthday party, junior high and high school graduations. Me… with a pony tail, dressed in rolled up blue jeans and black and white saddle oxfords. Me.. in high heels and evening gowns. There were pictures of me and my best girl friend, and of me smiling shyly at my first boyfriend. Proms, recitals, and holidays were all recorded!
I even enjoyed pictures of many of my beloved pets who were long departed!
The final albums held pictures of my husband and me, and our children.
A new generation!
These gave me even more reason to reminisce, as my children are grown now, with children of their own.
My father died much too young and my mother lived 26 more years, alone. She was still beautiful when she died at 85; the auburn curls turned silver, but the figure remained slim and the smile just as engaging!
I spent days virtually lost in these albums, reliving many wonderful times and a few unhappy ones, my emotions swinging like a pendulum from sadness to happiness and back again – laughing or crying with each swing.
Now, I can put the pictures away, but the memories will live in my heart forever.
Who says you can’t go back in time?
Beautiful! This is a task none of us likes but it must be done. One of life's bittersweet responsibilities. Very well written Peggy.
Nicely done. A painful job for anyone who has to do it.
I really envy you being able to do that. I don't have any pictures of my childhood. Just a random few.
Neat post Peggy! Wish I could write like you.
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