To preserve our family’s memories, I order hard-copy prints of the pictures I take on my phone camera and then put them into photo albums. Pretty old school, I admit.
But I’m a writer. I like holding paper (glossy, matte, etc.) in my hands. I like feeling texture. Most of all, I like sitting alongside those I love—my husband, our two daughters—and flipping through the pages, together.
Previously, I made photo books through a popular online photo-printing company. Then a few years back, I felt the company’s quality had decreased. Thus, I eschewed photo books, apps and whatever other tech-savvy tools I don’t quite fully understand in favor of the kinds of photo albums your grandparents probably still use.
That’s just me for you, friends: practically a dinosaur.
I had some free time last week (!). I decided to scroll through the remainder of last year’s pictures and get these moments printed for posterity’s sake.
The last print in my 2019 photo album was of Grace from our August beach trip. After scrolling through my phone, placing my CVS Photo order and picking it up, I had about 70 new prints to add to this album. When I finished, the girls were excited to check it out.
“Ooh, I remember that,” Grace said, pointing to the first picture that followed the summer-beach-trip one. This picture showed the girls at Stride Rite with a multicolored row of footwear before them. That day, we had gone to pick out shoes for the upcoming school year.
“And I remember that!” Now Anna pointed—this time, a memory of her first movie-theater movie. (It had been “Toy Story 4”.)
I loved listening to my daughters reminiscing about the pictures, watching them point and remember: Grace’s first day of school, then Anna’s, page after page of soccer practices and games.
Biking on the Rail Trail, pumpkin picking, milestone memories like Grace’s first Broadway show as well as everyday moments like Anna’s peeking out from her hiding spot in the refrigerator.
“I can’t believe you fit in there!” Grace laughed.
Anna laughed along with her big sister. “I did!”
“Please don’t do that again,” I reminded my younger daughter.
There really were a lot of pictures of the girls’ fall soccer season. This is what happens when you marry a man who, in response to the “All About Dad” fill-in-the-blank question “What he wanted to be when he grew up” from your younger daughter’s still-unfinished-five-years-later baby book, writes, “A dad or a professional soccer player.” 😉
Anna pointed to one soccer picture in particular. “That was the best Popsicle,” she said. In this picture, she was clutching a chocolate Popsicle (a Fudgsicle, technically) and holding up two fingers. She had scored two goals that day. The picture also memorialized Anna’s Fudgsicle mustache.
Almost all the soccer pictures had Popsicles in them. Because that’s what youth soccer is about, really. Getting outside; running around with your friends; Popsicles at the end. Scoring goals when you can (ideally in your team’s goal), but having a good time, mainly.
“That was the best Popsicle,” she said.
Grace smiled at the picture I had taken when we had seen “Beetlejuice” in November. “I loved going to New York City.”
“I loved that day too,” I agreed.
Anna flipped back and forth, back and forth, through the pages of pictures. “I wish I could jump into a picture.”
I blinked. What a cool, beautiful thought. To pop back in time, revisit a favorite moment, kind of like Mary Poppins and company with Bert’s sidewalk chalk drawing.
“What picture would you jump into?” I asked Anna.
Anna paused, but just for a second. “The ones with the Popsicles,” she said.
The ones with the Popsicles. Of course.
To pop back in time, revisit a favorite moment…
I was wondering, then…if you could, friends, what picture might you jump into? Or would you forgo this magical thinking to remain solidly in the present?
Now, I’m all about living in the present. I make my photo albums, but I love the here and now. If I could jump into a picture, though…I’d pick one that had my Poppy in it.
Any one would do (and I do have a lot). I’d go back for just a minute, give Poppy a big hug and head back home, back here.
One of the last times I saw my Poppy, I said, “I love you.” I said it several times, and then he waved his hand at me.
“All this, ‘I love you,'” he said. He told me I didn’t need to say it because he knew.
I still told him anyway.
Coincidentally (or not), Anna also told me I don’t need to tell her I love her from here on out. “You’ve told me, ‘I love you,’ one million times,” she said recently. “You never have to tell me again; I know, Mom.”
Even when someone knows something, someone else may want to express it.
Anna will have to hear my “I love you’s” millions more times, as Poppy did.
Any one would do (and I do have a lot).
Billions of people worldwide. Millions of moments. Despite these dizzying sums of people and flashes of time, all of our photo albums, from the hold-in-your-hand ones to the electronic versions, likely share more common ground than difference.
The things we all do throughout the seasons each year. The people we do them with. First days of school, vacations, holiday celebrations. Pictures we’d jump back into, if only to give one more hug to someone we once loved.
The pictures of our lives are everywhere. In photo albums. In picture frames on fireplace mantels, or hanging above them. On magnets that you buy at the end of soccer season, and then stick on the fridge. As backgrounds for our phones, and in camera rolls on them.
How lucky we are to have our pictures, especially the ones with Popsicles in them.
“That it will never come again / Is what makes life so sweet.” (Emily Dickinson)
Photo credit: Pixabay
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short story, “Backtrack.” An engaging read that’s can’t-put-it-down good.