Assorted boxes strewn across the living room floor, we picked up handfuls and passed them around as we finished. Some were old, faded papery black and white, others small, boxy, and colored as things were in the 70s. Still more screamed of hairspray, bad fashion choices, and loud vibrant colors. The sizes of the prints began to vary wildly as the gloss and color became more realistic and their own faces were featured in the frames.
“I wish we had pictures like this today,” he said.
The rest agreed. Today, everyone takes pictures with a tap of their phones, but so few print them out. Before them lay nearly 80 years of history, and they were voraciously gobbling it up. “She looks so young here.” “That’s the Nana I remember!” “I look like her!” “I remember that!” “Who is this?” There were gaps though. At some point when my children were small and I had switched from cameras to a phone, I had downloaded years of pictures onto the computer and it crashed. I lost them all. They told me at the time that I might never be able to retrieve them and that even if I could it would cost thousands of dollars to do so. I held onto the drive in case one day, I could get them back.
Unfortunately, many of my pictures are still on a computer drive, albeit backed up with an external drive now. Still, they are readily accessible – I can not hold them in my hands. My aunt has been telling me for years to print them out and make a photo album and it is always on my list of things to do, but before now, it seemed I never had the time.
After the loveliest Mother’s Day in recent memory, having my husband and children feed my belly and the pictures feed my soul – I realized the time is now. I must … I will go through every picture I still have on a hard drive – download and send away for actual physical pictures.
Sitting with the kids all afternoon looking over years of memories; seeing them laugh, look amazed, get excited, and wonder aloud, I realized they had been missing out on something I did all the time as a child. We would often peruse old albums and boxes of pictures when I was young. It gave me a sense of history. It cemented old memories, it connected me to my loved ones.
The face I saw in my dream a few nights ago was not that of Mom from just before she died, but Mom from my youth – Mom from those pictures. It was the first time I had dreamed of her in a long time and the first in which I was able to come close and hug her – see her face clearly. I owe it to my children to make sure they have tangible memories too.