Recently, a box of pictures were sent to my sister who lives in another state. They came to her as a result of deceased family belongings. These pictures taken some years ago. The expressions were strained and included was the only picture that I now own of my mother holding me in her lap when I was a little girl. My mother divorced my father and she received custody of my sister who is a little more than a year older than me. My brother and me stayed and lived with my father’s people. My mother had come for a visit once. The words I said to her 55 years ago, were retrieved from my memory upon looking at this picture. “Mommy, where have you been”? My mother is now eighty five and we share a relationship that amazes most, even me. And so, when she saw these pictures and remembered the words that I too remembered, it was a blessing to me.
I have taught a course in the art of extracting the story from old photos to reserve the memory contained. I thought that I had developed a sense of what was important to get a story that lay dormant in memory cells and make them come alive. Sometimes the photo is not about the moment it was taken, perhaps more so about what developed before and after. I now lay these pictures out on my desk and stare at the faces and think hard on the developments of life, but also realize that what is important takes place now. And so, these photos can act as a backdrop not to occupy too many current cells as I need those for joy.