During the second month of the pandemic, my mother dropped off a stack of Kodak carousels and a digital converter on my doorstep. I spent countless hours sifting through the slides. Looking at these pictures, I was reminded of my family’s love and the good fortune I was born into. Seeing my life before I could remember was a great experience. These pictures are not lost on me, and I am so grateful for them. They show me a time and place I do not remember or remember well. I can see my parents and the lives they were expected to have rather than the ones I clearly remember—the ones they forged for themselves separately. The camera tech of that era was fascinating. Every age will have its own and appear primitive, yet its limitations can make the photo even more dear. These are artifacts from your childhood. They remind me of the love and belonging I have in my bones.
For all of you who are snapping pictures of your baby, make sure to include your children’s grandmothers and great-grandfathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends, even if those people get on your nerves, even if they are from the “other” side of the family, even if they resist getting their pictures taken, even if you aren’t using the best equipment. Remember to record the joy and happiness in those faces as they hold your baby. And get your picture taken with your babies and look at them so they will see how much you love them. It doesn’t matter if you look terrible or you’re fat or sick or have a zit or whatever. Your kids will love these pictures the most. Someday, all our babies will hopefully be 50, and they will see, as I did, the bounty of happiness they brought into the world upon their birth. They will see all the love reflected in them.
The last photo of the woman with red hair was of my mom’s friend Jeanie from nursing school, and she and her family lived down the street from us. Her kids were friends of mine and my brother when we were wee. I had this picture of her made up as a postcard and sent it to her. She died a little while ago. Her daughter had this picture enlarged for the funeral mass. Even though Jeannie was 50some years older than when the photo was taken, she insisted on using it on her Roswell Cancer badge as a patient. Stroll down memory; you never know what will unfold from it.
“It takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the Wheel. It’s called a Carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels.” – Mad Men
Click the image above to open up lightbox (slideshow)