As my birthday candles increase each year, I discover I want to know more about my past. Maybe understanding more about my past will help me appreciate and navigate my senior citizen years better. I hope.
I wish I had known my parents as people; the truly, amazing people they were. People who had fascinating stories to share about their lives before me and my sisters. Before life got crazy busy. All those interesting life-stories before diapers, scraped knees, bills, and broken hearts.
I didn’t and couldn’t look past their parent label and see them as people. As a child, I was too young to care. As a teenager, I was too obnoxious to care. As a newly married, I was too busy to care. Then they were gone. There was no more time to sit and talk and share. There was no time to ask questions, listen intently and maybe share a giggle. What were their likes and dislikes? What were their dreams? What filled their bucket lists? Losing my parents too soon stole so much from me and my family.
What caught my attention and made me sad was a basket of pictures. Memories for sale. Cheap too! Just 25 cents for black and white photos of special events and beautiful people. Isn’t that when photos are taken? When the family is gathered together for a special occasion and everyone is picture-ready perfect. Maybe it’s a birthday, graduation or anniversary celebration. Or maybe it’s as simple and precious as our first whooper-of-a-fish caught or our first pony ride. We want to remember the happy times. So we snap a memory. We want to remember this moment and these people, exactly as they are right now.
I paused at the collection of memories. I had so many crazy emotions circling in my mind, “Should I purchase some or all of them? Don’t they deserve a proper home? But I don’t know the people in these old photos. If no one buys them, will they be thrown away? Shouldn’t they be with family, handed down to the younger generations? Isn’t someone missing their family represented in these photos? Does anyone else think this is sad and strange?”
There were no answers to the silent rantings in my head. I was hot in the July sun so I walked away from the basket of photos selling someone else’s memories for sale. I felt some minor injustice was occurring at that yard sale; a personal violation of some sort. I walked away but decided to learn from it. How can I make sure my family’s memories aren’t tossed in a basket going for a quarter or less some day?
Each picture has a back story to be shared by those who know the details. Pictures should be talked about after the family Thanksgiving meal and at the passing of a loved one and at the old picnic table out in the yard. You laugh and cry, both bringing tears to your eyes. You talk and share and pass on the memories so others can learn and appreciate.
So I am spending my days clinging to photos and seeking stories from any relative that can shed light on the people I didn’t really know – my parents. I am writing down my memories as a way to honor two amazing people and to educate those who come after me. My memories aren’t for sale; they are priceless.
Let’s Walk Worthy!