Tag Archives: Memories

What Is a Picture Worth?

The afternoon sun catches my son’s face, his often-serious tone. He’s lost in a thought, about chameleons or frilled lizards or some other scaly beast he yearns for. I snap a photo. He looks up at me. A wave of brown hair covers one hazel eye and he flashes that boyish grin that melts my heart. Snap. Got it.

My daughter chomps ice on the front porch, pretending to ignore me, looking everywhere but at my camera. Quickly she shoots a smile toward me, the ice as her teeth. Snap. She smiles again and crinkles up her freckled nose. She has the best smile, the kind that uses every muscle in her face. Without realizing it, you return the favor. Her smile is contagious. Snap. Snap. Even a photo can’t capture the beauty of it sometimes.

My kids complain that I take too many pictures. For all the moments I capture, there are tons more that I miss. First steps. That stink eye my daughter used to give us before bursting into a fit of giggles.

Do I need a picture of every moment of my kids’ childhoods? No. But I’m a sentimental person. I document in many ways to keep memories alive. Pictures fill in the holes of a memory that fades more each year, like a quilt airing in the sun. Even more, I want my kids to see themselves, to see how I see them.

I don’t have a lot of pictures of my early childhood. Sure, there are plenty of those awkward years that I’d like to forget. But I’d give anything to have more pictures of the good stuff: random shots of my sister and me playing in our rooms, snuggled in bed together every Christmas Eve, playing at the beach where we went every weekend, dressed in any Halloween costume. All of those memories are tucked in my head where I can show them to no one.

I want to see the old house where my grandparents used to live. The kitchen where my grandmother ate ketchup sandwiches and peaches and cream. The room that held the old fridge where I’d squat and decide which flavor of Nehi I wanted that day, or the upstairs bedroom where at age five I’d sit and talk to my great-grandmother in her bed. We’d rub our hands over the patches on her quilt and discuss our favorites. She told me I could have that quilt when she died, and it wasn’t long before I found it on my own bed. I wish I had just one picture of her and me together.

nehi

The bottles are smaller but oh, the flavor takes me back.

I wish I had pictures of a lot of things but I don’t. We simply didn’t take a lot of pictures. So I do it for my kids. I want to remember.

I look at pictures of my kids and I’m transported. I hear their voices, their giggles. I remember the moment. I snapped a shot of my daughter tasting sand in the sandbox and her brother giggling at her toddler stupidity. I treasure the image of the two of them snuggled in her crib after her nap. When she woke up, he’d race into her room and jump in with her before I could even stand up. I’d stand in the hall and listen as they giggled, so happy to see each other after two hours. Six years later, those few photos are all I have of those lost moments. Bedhead and sleepy eyes and dimpled grins, my son looking adoringly at his sister. And knowing my memory, fleeting moments like that in childhoods that pass too quickly would soon be forgotten, taken over by the next cute or funny thing.

So to me, ten thousand pictures is not too many. Nor ten thousand more. When you put them together, they’re a reminder of the beautiful life you are living.

lighthouseme

I even take pictures of myself from time to time. Usually I’m behind the lens.

Advertisements

36 Comments

Filed under Everyday Life

Who Wants My Old Junk? Sometimes, Me

Twice a year, my family begins the tradition of rummaging through closets, dressers, under beds, and deep in cobwebbed corners, weeding out the torn, worn, and the junky from overstuffed bedrooms. The kids try on clothes, saddened to learn that their favorite shirt from the previous year now looks like a better fit for an infant. I set them in a consignment pile to sell, saddened for another reason: yet another reminder of the passage of time.

The kids root through bins of outgrown toys I tucked away long ago when they weren’t looking and announce they suddenly can’t live without the Little Einsteins rocket and fly it around the room, proclaiming it their most favorite toy ever. “Mom, you can’t get rid of this!” Don’t even mention the fact that they played with it three times a year.

They hold up various items, not even sure what they are, and beg me not to sell them: a baby bathtub, infant scratch mittens. They pull out things I either don’t want to look at ever again or things they never looked at: a house with a ringing door that rings all the time, princess books I hated to read, a robot magnet puzzle for staying occupied in the car that did not work.

Getting rid of the kids’ stuff is a mixed bag of emotions every year. At first seeing my kids’ packed-away clothes took the wind out of me, knowing no more of my offspring will toddle around my unscrubbed floors and need me every second of the day. It’s amazing how fabric and buttons can bring a surge of grief, pain, and laughter you have to gulp in silence or sit down and give in to. Memories swarm to a time when my kids used to sit on my hip and say “ma-ma” and really look at my face. Seeing their tiny baby clothes became too much to bear. I couldn’t part with the preemie outfit my son wore home from the hospital or the outfits I bought when I learned I was having a girl. I washed them and gave them to my daughter to use for her dolls, just like my mom did when I was little. The summer dresses I loved, the shorts that hung to my son’s ankles, everything else that brought memories I’ve tagged, sold, and had to move on.

Some things I have happily tagged to get rid of thinking, “I’ll giveit away if I have to.” Those annoying toys the kids talked their grandparents into when we parents weren’t around. The obnoxiously loud ones that sound off in the middle of the night or the ones we knew they’d never play with and didn’t.

Some toys are a treasure too hard to part with, defining a childhood.

Still there are toys that one day I’ll lovingly pack away because they define such a chunk of my kid’s life. My son got a pirate ship when he was two that he still plays with occasionally. One day I’ll give it to my grandkids and tell them the odd names he gave the pirates: Scotgok, Elvis, Redhead, Brownbeard, Harold the Helicopter, Captain Fierce, No Name, and Greenie.

My sister and her husband once dropped off some broken, old junk at the dump that included their kids’ old jeep. Both kids drove it for years. My sister warned her husband not to look back when they drove away. Sometimes, you just can’t.

My First Giveaway!

In honor of spring-cleaning and out with the old, I’ve decided to hold my first giveaway. I’ll pick two random readers to win these lovelies: a pair of broken-in jeans. My son has done all the work so your kid doesn’t have to. Stains included.

Ripped jeans, all the rage in the can't-stay-off-the-ground set.

And this Big Wheel provides nonstop skidding action. Just thump-a, thump-a down the road and hit the brakes, kids!

Big Square Wheel

Terms and conditions: No givebacks, no paybacks.

Some things you just can’t give away, but I’ll try.

28 Comments

Filed under Everyday Life