Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Thanks for the Memories

My husband’s parent’s 50th wedding anniversary party was a wonderful occasion, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. It reminded us of the importance of family, both immediate and extended, and it was an evening we will always remember.

Part of the festivities was a slide show of photographs from years gone by. It was lovely to see them all. It reminded me of the boxes upon boxes of photographs my husband and I have, both our own, and those I inherited from my parents. I thought about how nice it would be to get the photographs and mementos in order, to start to preserve them for future generations. I resolved to start the task as soon as I could, and when we got home on Sunday afternoon I got started straight away.

Now there are a lot of boxes (I have located at least five full ones so far), but with all the technology today this is a much less daunting task than it would have been ten years ago. Photographs can be easily scanned, and made into albums that can be printed up professionally as proper books - even in multiple copies.. Damaged photographs are easily scanned and repaired with the iPhoto package on my MacBook.

I found photos of me as a baby, of my Dad’s father when he was a young soldier in World War One, of my parents and lots of other family and friends. I also found letters from my Grandpa to my Grandma written before my Mom was even born, and a letter to Santa written by my Mom in 1934. I even found some of the photos I sent to my parents during my early years in England - including some really cute ones of my son. It is so wonderful to hold these pieces of the past in my hand! We all need a history, and to feel part of a family. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to create so many happy memories, and I’m also very grateful to be able to look back on them so fondly!

The only thing I wish is that I had gone through more of them with my parents years ago. There never seemed to be time when we visited, and then when there was time, it was too late as my Mom’s memory was slipping away. Inevitably there are photographs of people I do not recognise, who have faded away into the mists of time. They were obviously a part of my family’s life, and yet I do not even know their names. I find that rather sad. If you are lucky enough to have the older members of your family still with you, I encourage you to spend some time with them going through old photographs and making notes. It’s also nice to keep a video record of some of their memories if you can, as our voices are such a precious part of who we are.

Thankfully, I was a good listener when I was a child, and I do remember many of the faces and names from the past. I’m taking care to write down who is who in the photographs where I can, and guess-timate dates. Of course, I have barely scratched the surface and this is a task that will take months, but I am thoroughly enjoying it. I keep finding really interesting things - old newspaper clippings, business cards and notes. I even found my old report cards from primary school! All these things are like pieces of a puzzle, clues to the secrets of the past - of everyday life in all its glory, and of events that shaped not just my family, but also helped to make me who I am today.