05 July 2010

Recording the Memories


Not my grandmother's house, Hwy 176, S.C.

When I rush to take a picture of a new building I realize that what I wish I had was photos of what used to be there. I'll see the new place for the rest of my life but it is immediately hard to remember what used to be there.

I've been taking pictures long enough to have recorded some "before and afters" but this morning's Dear Abby column struck me as such a brilliant idea that I want you all to do it before it's too late. The writer recommends taking pictures of every room in your grandparent's home. I wish I had that!

I'm always talking about my grandparent's home in Beamsville, Ontario. They had glass front lawyer style bookshelves with large carved birds perched on top. They treated themselves to a bird carving to celebrate each wedding anniversary. The arched entry into the living room had a hoya plant with the little wax blossoms growing from one end to the other and oval frames on the wall of my Scottish deep sea fisherman great-grandfather with his pierced ear.

I wish I had good pictures of all these memories but it isn't too late for you. Borrow a wide angle lens if you need to and capture the memories!
ABBY: After Grandma passed away at 101, the thought of disman­tling her home and dispersing her belongings was heart­breaking because her house had remained unchanged for so many years. I knew we couldn’t keep everything, but never seeing her house again was too much to bear.

I asked my cousin to take photos of every room, every hallway, every closet and every view inside and out, so I could make an album of “Grandma’s House.” Now I have an album of photographs that makes me feel like I’m standing in the middle of it again. My cousin even photo­graphed the auction in which we sold the things none of the family wanted or couldn’t fit in their homes.

With all these reality TV programs that deal with hoarding and clutter, I wanted to share this idea as a healthy alternative to keeping “things” in place of memories. Looking at my photo album is even better than having the actual items because everything is in the setting I remember. What I’m trying to convey is, sometimes you really can’t take it with you, and a picture is the next best thing. — JULIE IN BRA­DENTON, FLA.

DEAR JULIE: Thank you for a valuable suggestion. I’m sure I’m not the only grand­child who wishes that she had thought of it when my grandparents’ home was be­ing dismantled. I’m sure that looking at your album brings back a multitude of happy memories.