Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I'll do it Someday

Faded photographs. Bits and pieces, notes, a napkin, a postcard, a letter scribbled in an unknown hand. Why did you keep them, Mom? Who are these people who were part of your past? Who are these people who meant enough to you to earn a place in your beloved photo album? Why did you keep the napkin? Who was this boy who wrote to you? Why was the flower bud saved between the pages of the book? Why? Who? Where?

These saved remnants of the people on Neff Road take me back in time, a time before I was even imagined. I pull out the magnifying glass hoping to identify the people in a faded photograph. I try to imagine my aunts and uncles as teenagers or children. I try to identify the location by a porch, a wooded area, by imagining decades back when the homestead looked different.

I look closely at the picture trying to imagine what was happening at the time. Youth lined up on church pews. My mother's name in on the backside of the picture. I scan the faces and find her. Her eyes peek over the top of the the second girl in the front row.

I look at a picnic blanket recognizing my parents, but not sure of the others. Relatives? At first I thought so, but after enlarging the picture, I came to the conclusion that maybe it is Jim and Lucy. I'm just not sure. Darn it, Mom, why didn't you write something on the picture. Looking closer at the photo, I notice a book folded to the side. Did they read to one another back then? Mom has a napkin tucked into her neckline. So like Mom. Old cars sit in the background. Where are you picnicking, Mom?

A smile captures me and hugs me close when I find this picture of Pauline and Margaret (I think). They sit in our yard on chairs that were in the basement when I was growing up. Fond memories of delightful times with these women hold me for a moment as I see them as I never knew them. Young, full of laughter and life. Women who impacted the life of a child.

The photos reside in Mom's album. My children will not know who they are or maybe even care to know, but I owe it to my history to write the names. Someday I would like to do what I can to preserve the pictures before they deteriorate more. They are my history. A history of a time. A history of the people. A history that created the me I am.

You have them, these pictures. The live in a box, in a trunk, in albums. They come from your house, that of your parents, that of friends, that of your children. We rush through life and pay little attention to a minor thing, such as writing on the back of pictures. "I'll do them someday," we say. The pile gets higher and the photos forgotten. Life gets away from us. Then one day, we pull out the box. The pictures have faded as have the memories.

Where is my pencil?

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