Saturday, July 5, 2008

"Photographs and memories..."

I relinquished the photo album today.

Throughout my life, my father has painstakingly cropped and glued pictures onto black pages, filling album after album. Often, we would pour over them, alone, together, or with friends and partners, eventually (especially) with our children. As part of his final efforts to archive our family, he has scanned them all to digital (1,200 pages!) and given us each a DVD for Christmas.

Beginning my own adult life, I naturally embarked on the same effort, covers not as nice and matched, but still cropped pictures on black pages, monthly documentation as I had learned. I wanted my own children to enjoy them, show their friends and partners, have the tangible proof that simple days were full of fun. And I wanted them to recognize that the blank pages would eventually be filled.

It was devastating, a final blow of punctuation, to lose those albums to divorce.

This album can be scanned and the evidence of those memories shared. I can let go of the album today, having the photos saved on the computer and backed up on a disk, augmenting the memories preserved in my heart.

Although this marriage seems also to be ending, I can see the days of courtship and remember the hope and excitement that filled my thoughts. Pictures of the wedding and square dance after are treasured tokens of the best party EVER. An incredible moment is captured forever of a birthday in golden sunlight, seven months pregnant, and standing on the land that would become our home, house under design and yet to be built.

Pictures too there are of my daughter’s birth, followed later by a son, moments of joy so exquisite, impossible to tarnish by time and separation. And, equally, such simple days, a cup of coffee and a walk in the garden.

In 20 years there is so much to celebrate, so much happiness, like sunshine mixed with clouds, I can choose to describe them as warm, bright days, feel the heat linger on my skin. These pictures tell of vacations in Maine, countless explorations of tide pools; in Florida where dolphins danced in the wake of my in-laws boat; in Central Pennsylvania where I was welcomed into a community of family and friends.

A marriage involves whole families. We share in the celebration of other marriages and anniversaries. We cheer for the births of nieces and nephews, and watch them grow, delight in their transitions onto bikes, into new homes, out of schools, onto their own relationships.

So much can be destroyed and lost. I pray we can hold onto what matters.

Please share with your friends


Anonymous said...

I hope you don't mind my jumping in here.. I discovered your blog after you'd posted on another blog I visit. I find your writing to be so touching, it touches upon the painful that we experience in life, but is at the same time, very inspiring.

Pauline said...

I'm humming Jim Croce's song, Photographs and Memories -

Keeping the memories-of faces, of feelings, of happier times, of "way back then" -gives wonderful ballast to the future, where, if we pay attention, we get to make (and record) more good memories.

Distance from divorce dulls the pain; this line
"It was devastating, a final blow of punctuation, to lose those albums to divorce." is beautifully expressed. This whole piece has a sense of hope to it even in the midst of its poignancy.

Hayden Tompkins said...

Now I feel guilty. I avoid photos and cameras like the plague. Not kidding, that's actually how I met my husband. He was getting a little too close to me with his camera and I asked him to please not take my picture.

Anonymous said...

It is great that in todays world old photos can be scanned and retouched digitally quite easily.

In fact I have scanned them without even removing them from the album.

You are fortunate to have these pictures. I managed to get some very old ones of my family from relatives, scanned them, and promptly returned them.


Suzann said...

Kip - your writing touches a deep cord in me. The devastating pain of loss is one that must be walked through in your own time - and you will. There is so much more than our eyes can see - heart to heart.

You are very special - hugs to you across the miles between.

ps I finally added you to my blogroll. xo Suzann

Kip de Moll said...

You all are Awsome!

Carol, of course, I don't mind. I'm a glutton for approval.

Pauline, I couldn't figure out if the title was too subtle or a loud chord. I've been humming it too.

Hayden, I bet if you just gave us a glimpse, we'd all love to have a face for the name. You can never be too careful with those Paparazzi!!

Steve, I have a sister doing the real archival work, she's currently embarking on the presrevation of our great-grandmother's scrap book, and kindly asked our permission. How could we say no?

Suzann, Suzann...
...on a more practical level, I'm so very pleased to add yours to mine as well