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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where I Am

Photos by NAE @pomegranatetrail ©2011


The time has come to dismantle my mother's photo albums.
It is a very hard job.  
Many of the people in these books have already passed on.  I miss them.
My mother was the last of her generation in our family.  She had everybody's stuff.  
Now my sister and I have everybody's stuff.
I have so many...so very many conversations with myself (and my sister) about: 
What we are supposed to do with all of this "stuff"?
My mom created many photo albums over the years.
But, this grouping of bumpy, textured, woven ones are the hardest to undo.  
They hold my whole childhood.  
They hold the little girl part of me that still exists, deeply ingrained in my heart.
There are so many family photos, collected over years of life experiences.
There's so much family history here.
At first I did not think I would be able to take these books apart, as I've known them most of my life.  They speak volumes about my mother.  Their super organized, chronological order format, even down to the blending of two families...the little white paper labeling done in my mother's never-changing handwriting...their smell, my mother's smell that graces everything once belonging to her.
Taking them apart is loosing another piece of my mom.
It's loosing her once again and that is sad.
I look for the lessons.  I embrace family traditions.  
I celebrate joyous moments again.  
I marvel at who my mother was...at who each one of us has been.
Somehow, this job feels appropriate for this season of change.  
I feel changes coming.
I feel unsettled...disequilibrium.
I fit this job in where time and emotions allow.




21 comments:

deanna7trees said...

oh dear. why will you take them apart? will your children not want to have them? seems like a treasure to me.

Nancy said...

Deanna- I neglected to say that most of them are falling apart anyway or the magnetic backing is discoloring the pictures. I want to leave her wedding book as is, but we'll see. There is a lot of books-so storage is an issue. But scanning to a CD is a next step!

Ms. ∆×∆p×≥h/4π said...

Funny--I wonder if we are all connected in the ether--Grace is having transformations of visage--Jude is thinking about having too much unused accumulation--and I just wrote a comment on Grace's blog about hoarding and history. I suggest you photograph all the pages and keep a file folder in your computer. It won't take long, and you could (if you wanted to pass them along as she envisioned them) cut disks to send to the kids, and one to keep yourself (in case the computer fails, or we run out of electricity to support it). It's a heritage you might want to preserve. Maybe that's what you have in mind. It wasn't clear to me. But, you could even burn the originals once you had a disc. if letting go of artifact is at issue. The emotional processing involved in re-examining photographs can be daunting (I've done it), but you are a sturdy, bright being, and certainly can withstand it. The photos still in good condition might be transferred to another sort of book if you want to keep them. Good for you!

Ms. ∆×∆p×≥h/4π said...

OOps--forgot to read your answer to Deanna--you are scanning. Good

Nancy said...

Michelle you make me laugh!

kaiteM said...

such a hard task, i too wondered why but you've answered that. my heartfelt energy to you for this task.
word verification: larmend - mend, does that help at all?

Nancy said...

Kaite...yes it's a hard one for sure. I'm seeing the positive though too. Thanks for your thoughts.

Yvonne said...

'Hard' was just the word that came to my mind, too. I remember going through boxes of photos, cards and other memories of my mom's and I would only have the energy for a bit at a time. A life holds so much.

Nancy said...

Thank you Yvonne. Yes we've looked at lots of cards, letters, legal papers...you name it. She has been gone 3 years now. Bits-n-pieces...slowly...interspersed in daily life...

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

Nancy...i honestly don't know
how i feel about seeing these
albums. so...am not ready to
say much at this point.
i mean, really.
i know this has deep meaning for
you
so...i am going to wait, till
something sifts through all the
possible ways to think/feel...
love,

Nancy said...

Grace- trust me...I've had a wide variety of feelings with all of this too.

woman with wings said...

Nancy, your mother was so organized and how wonderful to have these photos with labels and dates and everything! That's a big deal, right there. Once you get the scanning process started, maybe it'll all fall into place and you won't have as strong a sense of loss as it seems. And if you do, it'll be a good hurt. I have a similar situation. xo

Nancy said...

Peggy- thank you and yes we are lucky to have such documented childhoods! I am enjoying the process, especially the part of sharing some of the pictures with family on FB!

handstories said...

oh, taking apart memories...i don't even know what to wish for you. fortitude...peace...comfort...

Nancy said...

Thanks Cindy. I've done 18 so far, feelings shift...morph...as I go. :)

Serena said...

i have no advice to give, but this post is really touching.

Nancy said...

Serena- Advice is not needed...but all of these friendly comments have helped. Today we pulled out the rest to go through...more than I can count. Ugh! :)

Deb G said...

A couple years ago I went through a lot of the photos my grandparents had accumulated (boxes and boxes of them) and took pictures of them. If you have a camera that takes good close ups it works well. I've burned CD's for everyone but never got farther than that. I'm working towards printing out my favorites and making a book with them. It's a big project...

Nancy said...

Oh Deb, we haven't even gotten to the boxes of photos from my grandmother's generation. Just so very many photo albums of my mom's! We plan on burning CD's too...maybe an iphoto book of the favorites...maybe! Thanks for the comment :)

Ruby Slippers said...

My heart goes out to you Nancy. My mother passed away two years ago and left a treasure of photo albums dating back to her childhood. As with your mother, everything is beautifully labelled and organized. My how we grumbled when each Christmas eve she sat us down in front of the fireplace holding our stockings ready to be hung. And how we treasure those photos now!

I also have her day books going back to our childhoods, filled with dentist and doctor appointments, cubs, brownies, hockey. Her family was her life. Later these grew to be daily diaries of all the family and domestic things that happened that day. They are precious.

Right now they're stored in a bookshelf in my cupboard where the three of us who live in Coastal BC can enjoy them. But what of their future? If I move storage space may be a problem. And when all of the children in Canada are gone, what then, as my one niece lives in Australia? Some day we'll have to think about this and what you're going through now certainly brings that to mind.

Nancy said...

Ruby- Yes it is a very big job...filled with lots of Big thoughts. My mother kept so much that now we are just overwhelmed with it all. It has been sitting in her section of the house for the past 3 years, but now my sister is moving and decisions must be made. It's hard to know what to keep.