A chubby, one year old toddler sits in the middle of a lawn. Dressed in a white, short puffy-sleeved blouse, overalls, short ankle socks and white tie-up shoes, her short brown hair neatly parted to one side. She looks happy. Handwritten on the back of the photo: Cathy, July 1959.
This photo reflects the first memory of my now sixty year old life. It was taken in the backyard of my grandparent’s house on Dixon Road in the Beaches area of Toronto. As I recall, the backyard was long and narrow, surrounded by a wooden fence, all sides bordered by large raspberry bushes. I sit balanced in the middle of the lawn, my little legs bent in front of me. Whoever placed me there, knew I was unlikely to move. According to my Mom, I skipped the crawling stage – I shuffled forward on my butt.
I vaguely remember the day this photo was taken. My grandmother held me in her arms as she walked around the yard, picking yummy raspberries that crept up the fence. That photo prompts other memories of that house – the striped canvas swing where we’d sit shaded from the sun, gently rocking, watching neighbours work in their garden and people walking along the street.
Over the years, I’ve wondered how much of this memory is mine and how much is a narrative explained to me by my parents and grandparents. It doesn’t really matter. My heart warms when I look at that photo. It makes me happy.
Photos jog our memories. They transport us back in time to a vacation, a birthday, a journey. The photo triggers the same emotion we felt at the time – happiness, sadness, celebration. Photos conjure memories. ‘That was the day we had a picnic and Laura got stung by a bee. And then we got ice cream and I had bubblegum for the first time.’ Or ‘That was the last time Grandma visited our house. I loved that floppy hat she always wore.’ Without photos, these memories get buried.
A Photo Memory Book by Cottage Wordsmith is packed with photos but also features the words and stories behind the photos. It can tell the story of your childhood. It can celebrate a 50 year old marriage. It can also describe a successful career and be given as a retirement gift. Or it can describe an entire life – capturing and sharing the legacy of a loved one.
Every picture tells a story. What photo pops into your mind? What is your story behind the image? Does it mark a special event or simply a normal day in the backyard, like my photo? A Photo Memory Book can be kept forever and handed down from generation to generation so those stories live on forever. What stories will you tell?