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Friday, August 20, 2010


A couple of days ago, a dear friend emailed me. "Where ARE you," she queried. It made me realize that as life has been rushing by me, pulling me along in the wake, time just disappears. Does this ever happen to you? You wake up one morning and realize that it's much later in the week/month/year than you thought? But I meant to do this before summer ended, I think; I meant to do that.

Days speed by and soon what seemed current is recent history. How does this happen? You merely blink and another day, another week is gone.

I have been dwelling on memory this week, wrapped up in remembrances. Joining has contributed to that, but it's not the main reason. No, the explanation for this preoccupation was a small gift in the mail.

A few days ago, an unassuming package wrapped in brown paper slipped through the mail slot. It was from my uncle in Vancouver and contained a disc burned at his local photo developer. An absolute treasure. The disc contains family photographs taken during the summer of 1970. These digital images were originally slides taken by my uncle and then sent to relatives in Norway. They were unfortunately not returned, but when my uncle visited his Norwegian cousins this summer, amazingly the box of slides was returned to him. His son-in-law scanned the slides and did some photo restoration, with magical results. My uncle had not seen these pictures since 1970 and I did not even know they existed.

There are images of my great-uncle Earl and his wife, Aunt Ruth. Pictures of my great aunt May, my great aunt Hazel, even my great aunt Emma, who was visiting from Norway. But, oh. Oh. Photographs of my grandfather Ole and my grandmother Vivian. Lots of them. I cannot even put into words how special these pictures are, how much it means to me to have them. My grandparents raised me from the time I was very small until 1969, when my father unexpectedly came for me and moved us from BC to Ontario. These photographs are a sudden, shockingly sharp, reminder of my past.

What is especially poignant are the little things, images within a photograph of items that some might call mundane. I couldn't help but notice the teacups on a table set for a dinner party. I have those teacups now, I thought. They were given to me by my grandfather when the captain and I were married, the year after my grandmother died. I couldn't help but notice the small Norwegian flag on the dinner table, placed there in honour of Emma's visit. I have that flag now. And I couldn't help but notice the photograph of my grandmother sitting in their backyard at a family picnic, wearing her pink and white beads. I have those beads now.

I headed for my china cabinet. Out came one of the teacups, a gold one that is a particular favourite. I headed for my bedroom, to the tattered pink jewellery box that had been my grandmother's, and out came the pink and white beads. I reached for my camera, then let Photoshop help me show you the past and the present.

This all evokes so many memories....even melancholy, a sadness for what might have been, the family experiences I did not get to share. The life I unwillingly left behind. But if I had not come to Ontario I would not have met the captain, and that's a dealbreaker. Life plays itself out -- it's like riding the waves on a beach. If we want to survive we roll with the ups and the downs. Leaving BC was a down, but the captain? Oh, that's an up. A definite up. An up that trumps all others.


Bea said...

Well, we both were riding a wave of the past on our blogs. I love the fact that you received that disk. How wonderful if you can use any of those images in your artwork in some way. What a treasure found. :)Bea

Diane O. said...

What a great treasure. I know what you mean about looking at the "other" things in the photos. I'm the keeper of all my Mom's photos and have noticed when I begin to look at them I get "lost" in remembering the past, it's not hard to do and then before you know it a lot of time has gone by.

Leslie Jane Moran said...

This is such a special post. Everything about it is so poignant. You've shared so much of yourself with all of us, and we love it.

Susan Williamson said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of your life. I couldn't help thinking how much I would enjoy reading your autobiography if you're ever moved to write one. And just think: now there are pictures too.

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