Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Take a picture, it will last longer

(It has recently come to light that a number of my relatives frequent this blog. Hi!!)

While the title may sound like a snarky comment, there is truth behind it. We take pictures because we worry we will lose the memory of a moment. We look back through these pictures, hanging them on our walls, placing them on our desks, to remember the event, or recapture the emotion.

I never doubted my grandmother's love for her family and friends. It was blatantly displayed on every possible surface of her house, then later her apartment, then later her room in an assisted living facility. One of the last interactions I had with her was showing her the picture Scott & I had taken for our engagement / Save the date / Christmas cards, and pinning it by her hospital bed, amongst various other pictures my cousins had placed there as well.

Over the years, as my grandmother amassed more and more family, but moved to smaller and smaller houses and suites, my aunts or my mother would attempt to corral all the pictures she had placed on her wall (some in frames, others taped or pinned in place) into one large collage. With the rate at which the family grew, it almost seemed that as soon as a collage was finished, it would be outdated. With time, pictures began to filter into my parents' house as my grandmother ran out of room for them.

The night after my grandmother passed away, my mother started pulling together pictures from various albums, frames and collages to bring to the funeral. To say the carpet was covered in pictures would not be an overstatement. To see the number of people who loved my grandmother and whom my grandmother loved was overwhelming. 

My grandmother's estate finalized a few weeks ago, and my mother saw to it that both my sister and I were offered a portion it so we could purchase something, preferably which would remind us of our grandmother. However, my grandmother was not a woman who tended to spoil herself. She freely gave to others whom she saw as being in need, even if it meant she would do without. We would frequently go to visit her and find that she had loaned a chair or a television to a friend. I struggled for a long time with finding something that properly commemorate my grandmother, given her disengagement with things normally believed to have value.

But as I found our spare bed covered with photographs for a slideshow to commemorate my other set of grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary, the answer was clear: a camera. Even if (as I dream I will almost every night), I drop the camera into the ocean, smash it on concrete or bury it in dirt, I will still have the pictures. And some day, when my children untape pictures from my walls, and pick frames off my shelves to compile collages of my friends and family, I will tell them of their great-grandmother and how her love for her friends and family could never be contained to a frame.
My grandparents on the day of their wedding, in the locket I wore the day of mine
(PS - did I mention I've enabled anonymous comment again?)


  1. I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother's passing, but your memories of her are so sweet. I have very little physical things that remind me of my family.

    Remember that physical things aren't forever, so enjoy them while you have them. I hope you use your camera to capture snapshots of your life, and have the photos to trigger the even better memories.

  2. What a heartfelt and poignant post Cara. It's so lovely to have special things to remember loved ones by, I have my Nana's raw opal ring which I cherish. What a lovely idea to buy a camera- I spoiled myself for a spa day with some of my inheritance from my Nana because she was a very glamorous lady!

  3. You've so eloquently summed up exactly how I feel about keeping memories via photos - though sometimes I tend to focus too much on the "taking photos" part and forget to enjoy the moment. I think it's great that you have all those photos to not just remember your grandmother by, but to have memories of the entire family as well.

  4. Beautiful post. Pictures are such lovely reminders of the people in our lives. One of the smartest things my dad ever did was, when he gave me a shoebox full of old photos, he sat down with me, told me who everyone was in the pictures, and wrote their names on the back. Without that, I wouldn't know most of them.

    My sympathy to your family for your recent loss.

  5. My grandmother was the same way - always giving so much of herself.

    Pictures are SO important and special and the best kind of mementos to have. I think buying a camera is a wonderful idea.

  6. Lovely post. I think I may end up like you grandmother as far as photographs go. When I was a student in the early 1980s I was never without my camera. Those were the days before mobile phones and digital cameras. These cameras requored film that needed developing. I have always said the thing I would rescue from a burning house would be my photo albums.


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