Garden Variey Wisdom
Inspiration Collections Blog Friends Yard Yetis
Yellow Wellies

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Photo Ops Or Memories In the Making







You can start by being less photogenic.

Exhibiting non-model behavior.

Seeing the bigger picture.

So, before I lecture you on how to make a memory, I will provide you with a lecture on how NOT to make one, courtesy of my Mother.

Poor Mom, I write often of her and she can't get a word in edgewise anymore, but I am a Mom too and figure one day my own kids will tell tall tales about me, and I won't be able to shut them up. So all's fair in love, life and our family lore.

I have in my possession, should I be forced to take the stand, solid evidence of over 25 Thanksgiving dinner table settings at my parent's apartment. Photographic evidence. The only problem is that none of the pictures are time stamped. If a fork wasn't occasionally off kilter or the turkey sat to the left rather than the right of my Dad, there would be no way to tell what year the photo was taken. He wore the same red sweater, you can see his sleeve, the tablecloth is the same, the dinnerware ditto, and the side dishes, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries and dinner rolls are arranged three to the left of the centerpiece and three to the right. There are no human beings in the shot.

I also have about 25 pictures of the same dining room table covered with greeting cards for a birthday. No people. No balloons. No cake. Just the cards. Anniversary...25 more. Christmas...25 more. Valentine's Day...25 more. Mother's Day...25 more.

The table has been staged over and over again. It reminds me of an elderly Aunt of a relative of mine, who glued her placemats to her kitchen table, to make clean up less stressful. I envision my Mother drawing geometric shapes on her tabletop to insure a consistent landing pattern.

When I was young, the opening of the gifts ritual, meant sitting on the ottoman, in front of the non-functional fireplace, holding the gift up under my chin and smiling for the camera. Then my brother posed. Then my other brother posed. And finally my Mother posed. My Father must have been in the witness protection program as he never ever posed, keeping the lens at arms length by muttering indistinguishable curse words under his breath. Just loud enough that we ALL got the picture.

Some mothers have big bottomless purses to carry Kleenex and band aids and soccer socks, and pens and paper Mom carried rolls of undeveloped film. Rolls and rolls and rolls.
Mom never owned a digital anything. Not even a thermometer. But she was a movie making pioneer. She was the first, I swear it, to own a Super 8 movie camera. No sound. She not only knew how to use it, but became quite the editor, sitting at the above mentioned dining room table, splicing reel after reel and labeling each can with titles such as "Easter Memories" and "New Baby Memories" etc. etc. She loved these movies so much that she rented a safe deposit box, unbeknownst to her children, to store the cans of film. It was the largest safe deposit box in the bank.

I know this because after she died, I was notified by the bank to come in and to examine its contents.
I felt very badly for the bank employees as they hefted the box on the counter and we peeled open the top. I think they imagined, over the years, that my Mother had been hoarding gold bars. A virtual Fort Knox of wealth.

She had been.


A Fort Knox full of golden memories.

Here comes the punch line.

The punch to the stomach punch line.

They're gone. 

Somewhere amidst all the shuffle and chaos of her final days, the movies went missing. Most of the photos too.

I have one album. About thirty photos.

And about twenty envelopes of the pictures of the dining room table.

Now before you are grief stricken and weeping uncontrollably, I do have pictures of my own from my grown up days. But her candid camera memory making days are long past and little remains of her desire to "capture" the moment. Her exact words. "I want to capture the moment."

She did.

And what I know, is how much I loved her for wanting to freeze time. To make a memory.

And that she was always the one behind the camera, freezing away.

I just wish we had the good sense my Father did, and had brought her in from the cold.

I must admit that I get a cold chill imagining my Mother as a resident of our digital age. Her presence on Facebook. Photo sharing websites. An iPhone. An iPad. Posting image after image after image of my childhood, my adolescence, close-ups of bell bottoms and really bad hair days. The 50's and the 60's and the 70's and oh dear the '80's. My kids would have loved it. Loved it.

Here I sit. Writing. And posting photographs. It must be a genetic disorder. My own grandmother played piano accompaniments for silent movies once upon a time.

So before you think I am a photophobic grinch, let me get to the point.

I love to flip through albums.

I like home movies.

But I would rather be busy making memories, than in the business of freezing time. I don't understand going to a concert and spending the entire time on your phone taking pictures and texting. How do you photograph the sound? The music. How do you capture the rapture?

Or at a restaurant. Or at the dinner table. Or up in the mountains at the top of the run. Or in the hospital with a new baby in your arms. Or gathered round the fireplace in a cabin in the woods. Or at the end of the dock with your feet dangling the water.

I want to remember. I do.

Especially at my age, when it gets easier and easier to forget and the past begins to dim.

However, I want to do something more than remember. I don't want the less stress of placemats glued to the table.

I want to make new memories.

I don't want to freeze time. I want to use up all the minutes I have left being next to, with, beside, near, close to, snuggled up against, hugged and jostled and tickled by sights yet unseen and just like Dr. Seuss, have my motto be "Oh the places I would go..."

Yes my friends, I have a flip phone. My bill is $35 a month. I could text if I tried, but I might as well be hammering out my message on a stone tablet, as I write in longhand and have to stop to choose between MNO and WXYZ.

 Emoticons just don't do it for me, when I can hear your voice, or better, see your face.

So here's the is a booming business. And I am an admirer of anything and everything that keeps us connected, opens lines of communication, bridges the gap, keeps us informed, but in order to make a memory...

Sometimes you have to push a few buttons...



Shut down. 


Then refocus your eyes to the life going on around you,

the life spinning past you,

the loved ones sitting near you...

And make a memory in your mind...

The old adage "take a picture, it lasts longer" simply not true. 

Images may fade over time...but...

...the memories you make with your whole heart,

are locked in the safe deposit box,

Adirondack Chairs