Sliding into the past

Prolonged absence with Life getting in the way of Blog; at least this means I have real life things to do rather than virtual ones, but it can be a little frustrating at times. Oh, the poor creative Muse, starved and forgotten, waiting in the dark!

Anyway…

One of the things I have been doing is vaguely relevant to this blog. I recently acquired a slide scanner and have been trawling through my Dad’s slides, getting them onto my computer.

It has been a surprisingly emotional journey. Dad always took slide pictures rather than print. He liked to be able to project them although, as with the rest of us, finding the time to do such a fiddly exercise, to set up the equipment and make a slide show, was usually too time-consuming to manage. As a result I am finding pictures I have never (knowingly) seen before.

One of the surprises was that there are a number of my grandma and also other family members, when I thought I had virtually no pictures of them at all. It has been such a joy to see them again, when I thought the image of them was fading from my ageing brain; that that was what my uncle/granddad/cousin really looked like – and all I had before was a memory of voice and touch, a cuddle and a story usually (I had a very happy childhood).

The other main surprise is looking at my little self as an observer. That small child is me, but because I don’t always remember the occasion, or because my memories of it don’t quite match, then I feel removed from the picture and the child becomes Other. Sometimes I look at her and think what a happy time she had; and sometimes I feel unutterably sad for her. The pictures have reaffirmed many of my memories and feelings but also added a new dimension as I can look at me from the outside too.

A third discovery is meeting my parents before I was there with them, seeing them before I was born, all young and smiling. Again I have few pictures of them to hand so this has been a great joy. Because I was born to them quite late they have always seemed middle-aged or older to me, and now I have met their younger selves. The photos are mainly of my mother (because Dad was taking them) but there are more of him than I expected, probably taken by his brother, uncle Alf. It’s a treat to have pictures of my Dad, and also to see his sense of humour in the pictures he took of Mum; hands full of ice cream or candy floss; sleeping in an armchair or reading a magazine; close up pictures of her hands, typing on the old typewriter (and showing all together his love for every detail of her beautiful hands, her wedding ring, all new and shiny, and her skill, of which she was so proud).

I am about half way through the boxes – there are hundreds – and have quite a few mysteries. My mother can offer no explanations when she looks at them. I think she has forgotten most of the events now, and of course some will pre-date her knowing Dad anyway. But it’s all a voyage of discovery and even if I am not sure who everyone in the pictures is, I know they are part of my family’s story.

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