Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wonderful memory, revisited

My insomnia has been acting up again. At least, I’ll assume that’s what it is. I don’t actually have trouble falling asleep, I have trouble staying asleep. Is that insomnia? I’m not sure. In any case, I woke this morning at 4:00 AM and have been up since. These aren't slowly roll out of bed awakenings with stretches and coos, these are bolt up from your pillow, open eyed, "what's next on my agenda" types of entrances into the dawn. Though, even when I'm not having trouble staying asleep, I pretty much wake up in that manner on a usual basis.

There wasn’t much to do at 4:00 AM except to make coffee, sit quietly in my favorite chair, pick up my laptop, check my email and wait for the sun to rise.

While blinking back the last remnants of sleep and slowly bringing my mind back to morning consciousness, I discovered this little treasure in my in-box sent to me by my brother Nicholas...

Mother with sisters & friends...

This is a wonderful photograph of my mother with one, possibly two, of her sisters and a group of neighborhood friends on the beach. I have no idea who took the photograph, or when exactly, it was taken. I'm guessing though that my mother ( second in from the left with the dark wavy hair) is anywhere between the age of 10 to 12 here, which would date the photo to have been made anywhere between 1946 - '48. I know for a fact that the girl in the back on the far right is my Aunt Anne. I'm almost convinced that the girl in the middle back ( with the sunglasses?) is my aunt Geri though I don't know that to be a fact. In some whimsical corner of my mind, I like to think that perhaps my Aunt Pauline ( my mother's oldest sister who died in the early 1950s at a young age) is the one taking this photo - again, I have no idea who is behind the camera.

My mother was the youngest of all of her 7 siblings ( 8 actually if you count my grandparents second child who died as an infant right after WWI) . She died in 1989, though the two older sisters in this photograph are still living, as are two of her older brothers.

I have always loved this photograph and, oddly enough, it haunted me for several days last week. That's why receiving it in my in-box this morning was such a treat, and rather uncanny treat at that. Obviously, anyone who knows me or reads this blog is aware of my admiration for vintage photographs. I own many. That is to say, I own many vintage photographs of other people and their families. I actually have very few from my own.

You see, after my last remaining parent died (my father, in 2001) , it was up to my two brothers, my sister, and myself to deal with the house that we grew up in and all of its many belongings. Its "things", if you will. Emptying, and let me stress that word emptying, out a house - the house - that you are raised in is no easy task. Suddenly, everything your eye lands upon has sentimental value and you find yourself in overload very quickly. As a coping mechanism, you find yourself making snap decisions about things because you usually haven't the time, or emotional energy, to spend on these items. Because of that, things have a way of simply disappearing. I believe that that is how it was with many of the family photographs.

What I've noticed however, after the dust clears, perhaps, as in my case, years later, some of these things begin to haunt you. Some stray thought will trigger something and you find yourself focused on some little item that seemed tiny, unimportant, innocuous, and certainly taken for granted back then, now beaming in your mind's eye like a sun-struck treasure washed up on shore. You start to wonder about it. Where did it go? What ever could have happened to it? You ponder it for a moment or two as it haunts, but then, reluctantly, you open your hand and release it back into the void with a little sigh, accepting the fact that it is no longer a part of your world.

That's how it was with this photograph. As I wrote earlier, it had been haunting me for some reason most of last week. I could still see it as clear as day in my mind. But, I had taken for granted that it was gone, or at least, floating somewhere amongst the personal items of one of my siblings. But, we each lead our own rather busy lives, even if I were to find out that they did have this photo, did they have time to locate it and get a copy made and sent to me? Would it even be fair to ask? Would I have time to do the same if asked of me? Eventually, I let the ghost of the photograph go and moved onto to other things.

And then, lo and behold, here it is in my in-box. Mind you, I never mentioned my thoughts about the image to any of my siblings. In his email, my brother states that he has a handful of photos and that he plans to scan them all and email them to us like he did with the beach photo. It strikes me as wonderfully synchronistic that out of this handful of images, he happened to select as his first scan the one image that was haunting my thoughts for the last several days.

What can this mean? Could it be that this is some wonderful spirit message from my mother from beyond to her children? Could it mean that my brother is psychic and picked up on my vibe? Could it be that I'm telekinetic and mentally sent my brother my vibe? Could it mean all of those things or, on the other hand, could it mean absolutely nothing and just be a fluke? I have some very close friends who would agree to that ( hello Michael and Tony). But, I have more by far that would assign meaning to it. I fall in that category too of course. I'm just not sure what it means yet. In any event, all I know is that receiving it at 4:00 AM in my in-box made one artist who regularly gets up way too early very happy. Very happy indeed.

Thanks Nicholas!

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