Monday, March 14, 2016

Life Reviewed

by Carol


image from titanichonorandglory.com



Deanna's thoughts about the movies last week brought to mind an idea for a post that I have long been pondering. Do you remember the beginning of the final scene of "Titanic!" ? As Rose, now elderly, lies in her bed passing away in her sleep, the camera pans over to her night table. The table is filled with framed pictures of Rose doing all the things she dreamed of doing when she was fighting for her survival in the cold waters of the Atlantic. Here is Rose riding a horse in a pair of pants. There is Rose getting ready to fly in an airplane, and there climbing on an elephant! And here with her children - there her grandchildren. Dreams big and small, come true. Cherished memories of a life well-lived; carefully framed in gratitude.

I have just returned from a visit to my parents. Every time I go to their house I pour through the family photographs. My one grandmother's family was wealthy before the depression, and my other grandmother was an artist. Round that out with a father who loved photography, and I am so fortunate to have many, many photographs and drawings of my family history. I just love to look closely at the clothes they wore, and the cities behind them. I even have grocery lists, showing a loaf of bread that costs 5 cents, a movie ticket, a telegram; clues to life in another time, and clues to their lives in particular. I would just love to talk to my grandmother who bobbed her hair in the 1920's causing my grandfather to stop speaking to her for days. Or to ask my artist grandmother what it was like to commute to Pratt art school in New York and be one of the only women on the bus. 

My paternal grandmother and grandfather

My maternal grandmother proudly holding my mother



I love to look at the expressions on their faces. It gives me a sense of timelessness. The same range of human emotions visible there in the 1920's (of course) as those we all feel  now. There is my three year old mother looking none to happy about the new baby sister who has just come home. My grandmother is looking quite flirty there on grandpa's lap. Parents from the 1800's showing off their babies at the beach with pride. People  bustling through New York, trying to get to work - model T's flying by, stirring up the dirt roads. A trip to Europe, standing near the Eiffel Tower, where I stood two summers ago.  It all just stirs my imagination.

Priceless expression - dethroned by the new addition!

Mother , happier, with her new umbrella


Anyway - it occurs to me that I am working on my collection, as are you all. It's what we all hope and pray for - dying safely and comfortable in our own beds, after long lives, surrounded by family and memories. I think of my nightstand. In recent years I have been fortunate to add favorite photos from New England, Arizona, France. I have beautiful portraits that I have taken of my family and my friends. I have a shelf that holds portraits of each pet who has shared my life. I have a picture of my childhood home, Mom and Dad outside. I know - I am a hopeless romantic!

Tell me - should we be so fortunate - what will your nightstand hold?

5 comments:

Dotti said...

These are priceless heirlooms! You are so lucky to have this treasure trove. My cousin sent me an old photo album from her mother's things a couple of years ago. Although I didn't know many of the people, I knew my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. It was my grandfather's relatives in Italy that I couldn't put a name to. But those pictures are priceless to me. Sadly, many of my childhood pictures were lost in a massive flood in my parents' home the first year we were married. Relatives have since stepped in and sent us many that they have but there are still a lot of holes. Yes, Carol, this is an important message. You may see it as a romantic; I see it as a historian. It's important to know these things, whatever the reason may be. It helps inform who and what we are.

kelly said...

man these are so awesome carol! and I have found the older I get, the more I am interested in knowing these stories. my maternal grandmother died very young when my mom was 19. and she suffered terribly in her short life. but to see her in pictures when she was younger, smiling having fun...it tells a different side to her story. which has always been comforting to me. and THIS...what we're talking about here...this is why I think it's so important to continue taking photos and telling our stories.

awesome post today dear friend. xoxoxo

Susan said...

Its so ironic that your topic is one that I have been pondering and enjoying as I pack up my family heritage photos! I get so side tracked and lost in the memories, that hours can go by in the blink of an eye lol! Love the photos....thanks for sharing!

terriporter said...

I am lucky to be the keeper of all of my parents' old albums, which are very precious to me. It is one of the reasons I scrapbook, so my children will have all of their memories captured and preserved for the future. The yearly portraits that I took of my kids when they were growing up make me so happy that I was a photographer and captured those moments in time forever. Love the thought of doing a shelf of photos of all your pets! I might have to think about pulling some out for a little gathering. But my "nightstand" will always hold photos of my children. Thanks for reminding us what it's all about -- photos and stories and a lifetime of memories.

Cathy H. said...

Beautiful tribute to your family. I have been doing ancestry research in the last few months and have found some great old pictures. I've started a notebook with memories, facts, and photos. Pictures of my family would be on my nightstand.

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