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A picture says a thousand words… and all of them are important.

Father and daughter, circa 1966

I’ve always been a huge fan of family photographs. They are important to me, something to treasure, especially of late. Certainly the boys will vouch for my love of the family snap; I will forever be that mother who insists we take one while we’re all together. “Can you just do it, please? It’ll take all of 5 seconds.” Then I smile and they relent, albeit sometimes grudgingly, because they know a happy mother is a generous one! They also do it because they know it makes me happy. I have a sneaking suspicion they like it too, despite their half-hearted protests. (But only as long as I don’t insist on too many shots, haha. “Ohhh come on, Muuuum!”)

Since I moved here a little over a year ago, my much-loved photo albums have been sitting in cartons on a shelf in the garage. Waiting for a moment to miraculously appear when I’d find the motivation and time to sort them all and find their new pride of place inside the house.

Most of the pictures are in albums but I also have three large boxes full of loose photographs. They’re from varying years and are all mixed in together. I could lose a week just opening the lid of one of those boxes. They’ve come from many sources – some were included with handwritten letters from relatives or friends, others were stray prints fallen out of an album, ones that were on my fridge but have since been replaced by others, even some pictures were found being used as a bookmark in a book. It’s a collection grown over time and several house moves, such were my attempts to be organised and clever by keeping them all in one place for ease of sorting later. Much later as it’s turned out!

1968: Dad’s girl 

So this morning I dived into memory lane, on the hunt for some pictures of my Dad for a Father’s Day post. (I found a few, and have posted them here.) Funny how time flies by so quick you barely notice, right? Happily for me, both sides of my family have always taken their fair share of photos. Family holidays, weddings, births, special outings to the shops, school camps, you name it, they’re all in there. Along with a few pictures that probably belong on the Awkward Family Photos website. But more on that another day!

I couldn’t help but love how much history is there at your fingertips, if you take the time to look; the fashion of the day, styles of haircuts, types of cars, house furnishings, a treasure trove of memories of a time you actually lived but may not have been old enough to truly remember. Many of the photographs are black and white, lending the people depicted in them an almost eerie, faraway quality, a subtle nod to the moment captured being long since passed.

It’s something we’re in danger of losing in this digital age of iPhones, texts, InstaStories and Snapchats, that physical connection to our family history. There’s a lot to be said about turning the pages of a photo album and passing on the back stories represented by those pictures. I worry our children and children’s children might miss out on those if we’re not careful. Because what about their stories, currently being documented on digital media? What will happen to them? Are they destined to be lost forever to the cyber ether? And what happens to your Facebook or Instagram accounts when you die? Because let’s face it, how many young people do you know who make photo albums as a keepsake? On hard copy OR digital?

1987: Sharing a laugh on my 21st birthday

My mother has done her part to keep our personal history alive, by gifting my brother and I a photo album full of memories of our own individual story. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving; I smile every time I look through it. There are little details written beside photos, extra insights about what was happening that day. She has even included things like my baby book, cards from when I was born, and even a few of the letters I wrote to my grandmother, now deceased. So precious! 
So I’m kind of in two minds. Perhaps this nostalgia for things past is yet another sign that I am indeed, getting older. Certainly the indications are there, whether I like it or not! After speaking to my dear old Dad today though, I know I’m in good stead; he’s 86 and in excellent form, still mentally sharp and funny as ever. But perhaps it’s more my wish or hope that our family story doesn’t disappear, even after we’re gone; a collective legacy that will continue to grow for my boys and their children, and their children’s children. Time has shown us that history is important. So bearing that in mind, I’m going to keep taking that picture, sharing that story and preserving that legacy. 
What will you do?

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About Me

Hi, I’m Sarah!

Former wild-child of the 80’s, classic rock fan and loyal friend to a particularly awesome group of people. Forever planning to write more. Fervently wishes she lived at the beach. Loves the mighty All Blacks. Rather partial to a cheeky glass of red.

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