A few months ago my brother and I cleared out some boxes from storage that my parents will no longer be needing. In one of them was a ziploc baggie stuffed full of hundreds of old negatives, some from as far back as the teens and nineteen twenties. I bought a new scanner today and brought a few of the negatives back to life. This is my favorite, a picture of my mother and her younger brother. It must have been taken some time in the twenties. My uncle died many years ago from complications of a heavy equipment accident, but my mother is still in good health for someone her age — 95. She is still the sweet person she ever was, just a little forgetful, and once in awhile she has trouble speaking.

For some reason looking at this photograph I feel some sadness. Maybe it’s the look in their eyes — like all kids complaining about having to stand there and wait for the shot, and maybe also feeling too old to have their arms around one another; possibly not liking each other or the guy taking the photo all that much at the moment. And maybe that’s all my own projection, just reflecting the passage of so much time and my capacity to create a story. I imagine the photograph was taken in early summer, about June perhaps. There are some stakes in the background, probably bean poles, and when the photograph is enlarged you can also see some small roses growing there. I can almost feel the warmth of the day in the soft light illuminating their faces. The slant says it’s evening. Undoubtedly, this was their yard and my grandfather took the picture. But discovering it, bringing it up onto my screen almost felt as if somehow I had taken it myself, as if it had been in my body waiting like a dream to show up now, today.

Time really doesn’t exist, does it? Only this timeless stuff: this memory, not even my own, waiting in a drawer year after year until it is ready to be played over again.

I am startled by the depth of my feelings.


PS: You can see a recent picture of my mother at the end of this post on my other blog.