Thursday, February 02, 2006

Family Pictures ...

A few years back I was visiting my sister in South Carolina and one night after dinner she brought out a bag of photographs she had been given by our mother. Our family is not very good about keeping its history intact. I don’t recall ever seeing a family photo album; instead pictures were stored in shoe boxes or large brown bags or not at all. When one of my brothers was very sick recently I went to his apartment to pick up some clothes and give the place a good cleaning before he returned home from the hospital. In the process I came across a stash of dozens of photographs taken by our father shortly after World War II. The photos were all curled up together and I can only imagine that they must have been bound by an elastic band or rolled up in a drawer all these many decades. When I asked my brother about the pictures he told me he had rescued them from the trash pile when our mother was cleaning out or old house. He had rescued other relics of our family’s past as well and they were sprinkled around his living room as if he had just been using them before he left. Some of the items I recognized from trips to the attic long ago, like our father’s Navy flight helmet and bright orange flight suit. The family pictures I discovered at my sisters that night have special significance to me because they are pictures of the early generations of my father’s family in America. Like me, many of them had left a place they knew, and possibly even loved, for a land they had only heard of, in search of a better life. I have made the reverse commute, crossing the same ocean that they crossed but in the opposite direction, coming back to the Old World they left behind, searching as well, for something they left behind.

7 Comments:

Blogger Cathy said...

It is so fortunate that you have had the chance to retrieve these photos. I am mad about archiving photos and putting things in scrapbooks. Yesterday my 4 year old and I sat down with his box of baby memorabilia and looked through it. It was an amazing feeling to sit down and go through these items that represented my memories of his new life; his outfit he wore home from the hospital, his bracelet from the hospital, the cards and early mementoes. The candle from his first birthday cake. When I had gently placed these items in the keepsake box I wished for the days when I would carefully go through them with my son. How amazing that it is only a few short years later and there we sat. I imagine going through this with him many times over and each time we do, he will discover something else and latch onto another memory, but most importantly, he will realise how special and important he is to me. How much he is loved....

4:39 PM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

Cathy ... If we impart nothing else to our children, but the certain knowledge that they are loved, then we have still done a great job as parents.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Isabella said...

I'm my family I'm the one who has rescued the old photos but like you brother, mine aren't in photo albums yet. They are such great memories though, you're lucky to have them.

5:07 PM  
Blogger piu piu said...

great post. this is why i'm not a parent. i can barely keep myself together enough to hold onto my creditcards...let alone important relics.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

Isabella ... Thanks so much for your visit and comment ...

Piu ... There is a lot more to parenting than cutting and pasting pics - I'm sure you would be terrific in all phases of the process!

9:28 PM  
Blogger christina said...

My parents also have boxes full of family photos that have never been archived. On our next holiday I really want to make an effort to pick out the best ones and bring them back. I can see them all in my head, but I want to hold them in my hands as well.

My father was ibe of those who came to the "New World" in search of something better (and found it) and when he heard I would be moving to Germany just said "Well, you know, one comes over, another one goes back". Sort of like trading places, I guess.

10:03 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Doesn't it give you chills to see those old photos? We are lucky to have some of them in good shape in our family. I look at those faces and wonder what they were thinking when they came over here and what would they think of me for coming back. I also feel grateful that my trip here can't compare to theirs. They didn't even know if they would ever go back again and communication home was so limited. It makes me have so much respect for them.

4:15 PM  

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