Why do you choose to pick up the camera and photograph your family? Is it for them when they are older? Is it for you? Maybe you do it for the grandparents who live far away? Maybe you want to fill you home with photographs that bring back sweet memories? Maybe it just feels like it’s going by too quickly…
For me, it’s to remember what’s no longer here. There are photos from my childhood that I no longer have, but I can still revisit in my memory.
There is a picture. I don’t have the slightest idea of whether it made it out to Colorado with me. I hope that some day I will find it, scan it and upload it to this blog, but, for now, the picture is in my head. Luckily, it couldn’t be any clearer if it was here in front of me. While it would be great to have something tangible, to hold and show my daughters, the picture in my head is still pretty wonderful.
Here’s how it goes….
My family and I are in Pennsylvania visiting my Aunt Catherine Ann’s horse farm for Thanksgiving. My grandparents are there with us, as they always were when we made this trip every year. It’s early morning and my sisters and I are in the old farmhouse kitchen with my grandpa. The antique oven is in the room giving of the smell of turkey. Pictures of my aunt’s race and show horses from years past hang on the dark wood wall behind the counter.
My sister, I’m guessing age 7, is sitting on the counter with a can on her head. Her long blond hair tangled, her feet bare. My other sister, Annie age 4ish, is small and coyish, on a bar stool across from Becky. My grandpa, in a collared button down and slacks, is behind her with a sponge in his hand. Both sisters are smiling widely and giggling, but my grandfather is laughing loudly as he takes aim with the sponge. Without a doubt, he is laughing; he was always laughing. I can hear it right now. It echoes through house, both then and now. He is having the absolute time of his life teaching Annie this game of knocking the can off of Becky’s head with the sponge. I am not in the picture. I am behind by beloved Polariod camera documenting this sporting event and cheering for Annie to knock the can off of Becky’s head.
This picture completely encompasses who my grandpa was and how we, his grandchildren, were enthralled with him. Thinking about this day with the sponge and the can leads me to other memories of him entertaining us. He taught us songs on the piano to be performed at his “top shelf” birthday parties. He organized Easter egg hunts that evolved from good natured fun for kids to serious competition once we were teenagers. These memories, rest happily in my head with a white polariod border around them. All senses in tact – the smell of my grandmother’s roast on Easter Sunday while grandpa’s contagious laughter echoing though the house – all stimulated by an image.
We have formal church portraits of my grandmother and grandfather together. We have Easter Sunday pictures of us all dressed up on the front steps of our home on Featherbed Lane…. but this is how I remember him. His soul shining. His laughter contagious. His love flowing.