I recently scanned (and had scanned) hundreds of slides and prints dating back to the 1930s through 1970 of mostly my dad’s parents, and particularly his mom and her side of the family. These are among the oldest pictures the family has, and so I was eager to get them all digitally preserved. I presented my father with a CD of these pictures this weekend, and explained that I have a number of others still to process. He went to show me some more old ones that he has, and that led us to dig into some boxes, making us both realize that I have only scanned a small portion of the family’s pictures. Yes, there is still a sizable chunk of old family history to preserve, and while I am glad the older pictures are done, focus can shift to preservation of those from the second half of the 20th century.

Regarding the pictures I’ve scanned thus far, it became clear to me that my Dad’s mom was comfortable in front of the camera. Whether it was a demure pose in front of a flower vase or piece of new bedroom furniture, or a wry smile while holding a big chunk of snow, or tending to a small plant in the backyard of their just-purchased house in the early 1950s, there is a warm look on her face. A few pictures of my great grandmothers were also preserved. I look at them and see strong women, some who lived long lives, but all who endured challenging ones.

Closer to me, there are only a few pictures of my mom in this first batch I scanned, primarily because the bulk of the pictures were taken before my parents met. As my dad and I were going through the pictures, however, I was reminded that my mom didn’t particularly like to have hers taken. I noted in many of the first family pictures that she looked away from the camera, and most of the family pictures that include her are where we are all somehow preoccupied—say, looking at animals in a wildlife preserve or ships in Mystic Seaport—and she was likely unaware her picture was being taken. Still, though, there are a number of great ones of her that are soon to be scanned. I found one in particular that made me smile: A tightly framed shot, she is lying on her back, happily holding six-month-old me in her outstretched arms. We used to look at family slides every now and then as we were growing up, and I may have seen this picture before, but I just didn’t remember it. A simple reminder of her warmth, love, and smile, it was certainly a wonderful thing to see this mother’s day weekend.

Naturally, looking at these pictures made me think of my mother, my grandmothers, and, as I am prone to do, all of my great grandmother ascendants. In fact, I’ve now glanced at my family tree file to read through the names of the 36 identified women from whom I descend. While I only knew three of them, I somehow feel indebted to all of them, and none more so than my mom.

Happy Mother’s Day


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