I am startled that I do not remember some significant moments in my family history from my childhood. A Facebook post by my father yesterday jarred my thought process and brought me here.
One of my early posts in this blogging experiment had to do with a treasure trove of slides sent to me from my father in Massachusetts. I spent weeks going through more than 1,000 slides and discovering faces and memories that have been long out of my mind. Among them were photos of my paternal grandmother dating from the 1940’s through the 1960’s. One in particular struck me. The occasion was my Father’s commissioning as an Ensign in the United States Navy at Newport, Rhode Island. Alice’s only child was starting out on a new life. Her pride in his accomplishments was evident on her face.
I scanned hundreds of slides into my hard drive with the intention of populating a family website full of generations of photos, stories and vital records. As I scanned, I sent some photos along to my parents and siblings. The photo of my Dad with his mother on that day was one of the first to be passed along.
My paternal grandmother died a few weeks before my 7th birthday, 49 years ago this week. Sadly, she has faded from my memory. I don’t remember that week or the grief that my father must have felt at the sudden loss of his mother. Compounding that grief was the fact that only a week before his uncle, the brother of his mother, had passed away suddenly as well. I cannot, for a moment, imagine the incredible loss that he must have suffered.
In my efforts to scan photos and slides and collect stories, I had forgotten that these long hidden glimpses into a past that is unfamiliar to me, would stir so much emotion in my Father’s ancient, kind heart. His Facebook post was simple and to the point:
My Mom’s anniversary! She died suddenly in 1967! She didn’t have an easy life but she was always supportive of me !
I am very lucky. As my 56th birthday approaches in November, I can say that I still have both my parents. Most of my friends cannot say the same. I saw them a few weeks ago at a family reunion of my Mother’s people. My Father looks older to me, but his mind is as sharp as any 25-year-old and his sense of humor, which I seemed to have inherited, is still wonderfully timed and playful.
I am reminded that old family photos hold a variety of memories and emotions. My excitement at uncovering these old images is tempered by the impact they have on the people who lived those captured moments.