Day by day
Memory Lane provides lovely place to stroll
By LIZ THOMPSON
September 19, 2016
The passing of time makes me more emotional than anything else.
Markers such as birthdays, graduations and weddings cause me to look back at the memories. I have photographs as proof — oodles of them — that these events happened.
Some time ago, I gathered all our photo albums and loose photos stashed here and there. I had high hopes of organizing them into new albums. What surprised me was how many photos were duplicates.
Remember ordering double prints for pennies more? One for me, one for Grandma? And the negatives — envelopes full, as if we would order more prints.
These hundreds of photos span from our baby years — duplicates our parents had, all black and white — to when we had our own children. Then when we became grandparents, our daughter sent us duplicates.
We had photos of the many houses we lived in, from Ohio to Arizona to Washington and back again. Twice.
I also found pictures of flowers — in one instance, five photos of the same flower. Landscapes. Gardens. Buildings. Vacations. People I could no longer identify. The trash can became full with many of these latter images.
What started as a simple organizational project became a long walk down memory lane.
I saw many different hairstyles on me and others as well as clothing that has come back into fashion but likely would not fit anymore, even if I had saved it. My young figure was much different than that of a woman my age.
Some of the most precious photos are when we were holding our newborns, and later our newborn grandchildren.
Click, click — I can almost hear the cameras whirring, flashes quasi-blinding me. Our first grandson was tolerant of all the pictures taken by grandparents, aunts and uncles but became shy around cameras later on. I can’t blame him.
What I really hold dear is remembering the feel of a child in my arms — the softness of the skin and the sweet fragrance of new life.
Later, memories more important than a photo were things such as my child calling out, “Mommy!” when she saw me or needed me. I recall easily her first day of school and my crying all the way home because she waved and walked into the room perfectly composed.
It was like a flash-forward as I realized that one day she would be on her own, not needing a mom all the time.
Time did zoom onward without my bidding. I can still see many of the events in my mind, as mental snapshots and three-minute movies spliced together into a full-length film without commercials.
As parents, we were finding our way, often like a toddler taking her first steps.
I’ve heard it said that children are born without instruction manuals. Each child is unique. From the first moment we hold our children, the main thing we need to remember is to love and care for them.
When they’re scared, hurt or sick, we hold them gently. We teach them morality, discipline lovingly and love unconditionally. I firmly believe we should do our best to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
When we make parental mistakes — and we will — we hope our children will someday be forgiving with their memories. We hope we spent enough time simply being there with them. That we were predictable, maybe even boring, in their eyes.
Children need to know we will be there when they fall, when they succeed, when they have tough questions. We need to be there cheering them along.
Author Connie Schultz has a good suggestion: “When you’re in the thick of raising your kids … you tend to keep a running list of everything you think you’re doing wrong. I recommend taking a lot of family pictures as evidence to the contrary.”
No one had to tell us to take pictures, and I’m glad we did. I finally did get the photos in some order. The stroll down memory lane reminded me of what we came through together.
If ever the unthinkable happened and these photos were destroyed, I know I don’t really need pictures to remember the years gone by. All I need to think or say is, “Let’s take a walk,” and the memories appear — or I become a storyteller.