I’m the kind of person that remembers a time and place by the color of the walls and the smell of what was cooking in the kitchen. Sights and smells help jog my memory; a memory that might otherwise be forgotten. They are intertwined so much that they cannot be complete when apart.
As a child I remember hearing stories of my paternal grandmother. She died before I was born, but I always felt close to her because of the stories that my father told me. I went to bed every night begging to hear more about this woman I had never seen with my earthly eyes. I was told, “She would have loved you.” I have always known that, but I still wish I could have made cookies with her in her kitchen so I could remember that smell. I wish I could have seen what lipstick she wore so I could remember that color. I wish I could have had more than an imaginary picture in my mind to match the stories I was told. That vital piece of memory was missing for me.
When I married into my husband’s family, I was happy to learn that his grandmother was still alive. The first time I was taken to their farm I was immersed into the life that my husband grew up in. I stood in the very place that held the history of my new family - their past and present.
As I stood in the very home my husband's grandfather and grandmother built, I felt how intensely tangible their history was. From that moment on, when my husband talked about a memory of when they were “sitting on the porch,” I could really picture it rather than try to dream it up in my own mind.
One day at the farm I was watching my child play in the same room I knew my husband played in when he was little. The room suddenly felt very nostalgic. In fact, everything in the room became nostalgic. When the house and the playful family gatherings are gone, how will I help my children remember that moment? I want them to always remember.
So, I grabbed my camera and photographed things. I asked my sister-in-law, “Hey! What’s your favorite thing in this house?” She and my husband both replied that it was a painting in the living room. As children they stared at it all the time. So, I took a picture of that picture.
I photographed everything. Things I myself thought were classic, and things that no one would remember positioned that way on the bookshelf. I wanted my children to remember sitting in that living room surrounded by family and friends;listening to the Atlanta Braves in the background; casually seeing the deck of cards on the table. I wanted to capture the past and present. By doing it the way I did, I am confident my children will remember.
So, five or fifteen years from now, when my husband tells the story of his grandmother to my children as they drift off to sleep, they will remember her and the color of her walls. They will remember what was cooking in the kitchen.
To see more pictures of The Farm, go here
This is our family history, my friends. And I am doing it.
"A life that is not documented is a life that within a generation or two will largely be lost to memory."
Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander
After all was said and done, I took my photographs of things and compiled them in a blurb book with memories written by each child and grandchild. It now sits on our coffee table as life captured. It represents our past, present, and now undoubtedly... our future.
Carrie Stroud is a wife, mom, and photographer in Seattle, Wa. She loves to bake all sorts of yummy carbs and end her sentences with sarcasm. That is, until her husband said that being sarcastic is really just telling the truth through a lie. Then she thought, "like, whatev." You can find her sassiness (as well as solace) on her personal blog, The Rowdy Stroudys.