In my early childhood, my great-grandmother was the photographer when the family gathered for holidays. With her Kodak camera hanging at the waist of her floral print dress by its thin black fabric strap, she flipped up the view finder, planted her black sensible shoes squarely apart and without fully counting to three, she pressed the button. Click! Ready or not the picture was taken. The results of her speedy technique were amusing black and white photos framed by white scallop edged borders. Caught on the film were surprised looks, a few closed eyes, and an occasional set of “rabbit ears” behind someone’s head.
I love to look at old pictures. I have boxes of loose photos and a few neatly organized albums. When I have a quiet moment, I pull them out and take a trip down memory lane. It is fun to see the changes through the years. The fashion trends are really amusing and the hairstyles make me wonder if I realized what I really looked like?? Beauty could only have been in the eyes of the beholder! But beneath my pixie cut or bad perm, I could still recognize my smile. The photos represent a timeline of my life as they captured important milestones and events and recorded them for posterity. Each picture unlocks a memory and with each memory is a story.
“Memory…is the diary that we all carry about us.” (Oscar Wilde)
When we lose a loved one, time stops. The clock no longer measures the minutes and the hours. There are no more memories with that person, and the last photo that is taken will forever be the final image. Our loved one will not age any more. He or she will not pass through another style mode. There will not be any more different hair-do’s. Behind the glass, the picture is suspended in time. It is now a memory, stored in our hearts forever.
“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” (Marcus Tullius Cicero)
A worn black and white 3×5 picture is carried around by my son in his wallet and the same photo is on my daughter’s night stand in a silver frame. With his 90’s style over-sized glasses and wide striped tie, their 45 year-old father smiles broadly, broadcasting his loving spirit. It was a publicity photo that was taken for the newspaper and was ultimately used for his obituary and appears in my book. It is a special picture for all of us because it captures his true, vibrant personality. David will never get older and his image will never change in our minds. This is the final Dad picture.
The rest of us, however, have changed significantly in the past nineteen years, and God willing, we will continue to do so. Years leave lines of experience on our faces and our bodies slow down a little, but inside, we don’t feel that different. More photographs have been taken as we have moved over to the passing lane in life. New memories are being made. The old ones stay safely in our hearts.
Life goes on and we all need to embrace it with the enthusiasm and joy that we did in the past. So as you travel on your own life path, when more pictures are taken, don’t forget to give your best smile when you hear, “say cheese!”.
“You never know when your’re making a memory.” (Rickie lee Jones)
So make it a good one!