Have you ever been driving along, listening to the radio, when a song comes on that simply takes you back to a day, a moment in time, a place you never thought you would be again?
I have experienced that same incredible jolt at times when looking at treasured photographs.
Back to school. There is a sweet photo of my two children, taken on the first day of school many moons ago. They are standing sort of back-to-back under a shade tree, smiling at the camera with nothing short of glee.
Caroline, her incredibly joyous grin revealing a few missing front baby teeth, was heading off for her first day of first grade. Cort, still suntanned and golden-haired from a summer of playing baseball every waking moment, was heading off to third grade.
I cannot help but notice that the tree they are standing under has grown in leaps and bounds just as they have.
That photograph takes me back to that happy day. I remember helping them choose those new backpacks they are wearing on their little shoulders, and I remember the great thought that went into what they would wear on that first day back to school.
I remember, most of all, how filled with stories they were when they returned from school that day, eager to share them with their mom over milk and cookies.
Family reunion. Another photograph I hold dear is one of my dad and his uncle, sitting side by side, sharing a grin from a great story.
I remember the day it was taken so clearly. It was a beautiful August afternoon, and we had all gathered at my father’s aunt’s farm for a family reunion picnic.
It was on this farm that my parents had met and began to fall in love. My mother was a neighbor girl to my father’s aunt Nellie.
My mother would purposely walk to the pond with her girlfriend whenever she knew the owner’s handsome nephew was there visiting, helping with chores, baling hay or fixing fence. She would hope that he noticed her, but then proceed to “ignore him like mad,” she has said many times.
Finally, one day he found the courage to invite her to the county fair. On this first date, after walking the fairgrounds, they went to visit my dad’s uncle Emery, who appears in this photograph with my dad.
On this particular August day in 1976, I am sure that just being on that farm for the reunion held all sorts of happy memories for my parents.
I remember that a very old relative was there, a man well in to his 90s, with whom they were delighted to visit. He was interesting, filled with stories and family lore, and it became a benchmark day for my dad, one that he recalled fondly for the rest of his life.
In this photograph, I would imagine my dad and his uncle are listening to one of those stories, their similar grins revealing a very happy moment. The sun is shining, as they sit under the shade of ancient trees on that long-established farm.
Time travel. I have often wished that these photographs could put us right back to that moment in time, before illness and time and misfortune took its toll.
Life marches on. Nothing proves that more than these treasured photographs, evoking bittersweet memories in the here and now.
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