My son was born July 15, 2017. My mother passed away 4 days after his first birthday. FOUR days. In early 2018 she had planned to fly out to Indiana to celebrate his first birthday with us, but she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in May 2018 and given a prognosis of 3 months. The last time she saw her grandson was in June when we flew back to be with her and to celebrate his birthday early. She loved him, so much that knowing her fate made her angry. While there, I took minimal pictures since I just wanted to be with her. This was only the third time she had seen her grandson.
We were in California for two weeks. When we first arrived, my mother was alert, though exhausted and having a hard time with mobility and breathing. At the end of our visit, my mother was on oxygen 24 hours a day and barely coherent.
My mother was never one to demand pictures but never hid from the camera either. She absolutely loved pictures of us and her grandchildren. I don’t think there’s a person who loved anything more than my mother with her family. Anytime we’d text her a picture she’d usually print it out on her Kodak picture printer and it would be in the foyer, her desk, or on the tv stand the next time we visited. She was one of my first supporters when I started photography. She always wore her love for everyone so obviously and would help anyone who needed it. My mother was a rare light in this world, and it breaks my heart that my son won’t experience it.
She was only 62 when she passed away. It all happened so fast, and now all we have are memories and images.
There’s a misconception that digital images equal pictures. The benefits of having digital images is that they’re convenient and can last “forever” – granted they’re backed up on at least 2 devices at full-size and high resolution; but they’re not heirlooms. Pictures are visible heirlooms. We all have at least one box of pictures and at least one framed picture in our homes. We see framed pictures every day. We see those loved ones every day, whether they’re still with us or not. We don’t forget about a framed picture like we do a digital image in our phones or hard drive.
How often have you scrolled through your camera roll on the hunt for a picture, only to find so many others that you forgot about? I do that so often. I did it last night. I make plans to print them out, but I tend to forget about it because of where they are; and we don’t often consider what would happen to our phones or cloud. In November 2017, my iphone was broken. The ONLY photo I had of my mother and my son when he was a month old was gone forever because it was NOT backed up to my cloud. You would not believe how desperately I tried to recover that photo. I could remember my mother asking me to send it to her, but I guess I never did. I can see that photo in my mind, I remember it so clearly. I remember her asking me to take it. I was devastated when I couldn’t recover it.
In our home, we have pictures of my parents, my husband’s parents, and some of my grandfather. They’re all on the walls because I want our son to see them – to know them. He’ll have a face to put with their names and stories. I’ve made it a point with my son, to try and get any many pictures as possible. Pictures aren’t just heirlooms, they’re our stories and they should be told.