If you have looked at the age progression photos I’ve put together and shared here over the last weeks, you have seen men and women physically transform through pictures as they age. For me, and others who knew them personally, the changing faces represent so much more.
I knew these grandparents when they were older. In the busyness of life and the naivety and self-absorption of youth, I failed to even consider that they had lives before I knew them. Having the pictures we do, and having time to study them and consider what their lives were like before my memories began, has been a reflective journey. I have not lived beside them, but I have seen glimpses of their lives before my time. Although in some cases there are links – generations between us – I am left with questions. Many questions, and only some answers.
Some questions I ask and wonder about when I look at most of the names on my family tree and the pictures on my computer files…what were those people like? Had I lived life alongside of them, would we have been friends? If s/he were my neighbor, would I have wanted to sit on the porch with him or her? What did a day in their life look like? Often, I find myself fascinated by the generational times they lived in and how their lives were different from mine. How did the time they lived in affect their lives and how did their lives impact those around them? Do we share similar physical characteristics or facial features, hair or eye color? Are there genetic strengths or susceptibilities I might want to be aware of?
And then there are personalities to wonder about. There are remnants of some of their lives – letters, a poem that was held dear and kept, a dress, a family story (flattering or otherwise) – but those are only a peek. If someone kept an item a person had, does that say something about the person who owned it or something about the person who saved it? One can only guess.
I do know the people closest to me in my family tree. What I write may or may not be kept or shared, but I have the time and ability to put words together, so I do. These people you’ve seen pictures of are my family, my grandparents. Seeing them as a baby, a child, a young adult, at middle age and on into what we call elderly all in one glimpse is a bit mind numbing. Our lives go by quickly. We’re born, we marry, we die. And what’s left of us are those dates. We are more than dates, though. We impact each other on a day-to-day basis and through generations. I write about the impact family members have had on me. I write about how their words and their actions played a part in making me who I am. I write as a tribute to their good lives. If you knew them too, I hope you find yourself nodding as you relive your own memories of them. If you didn’t know them, I hope you have a similar memory of someone like them and you find yourself smiling.
Thank you for looking at the pictures of my grandparents. Thank you for meeting them. Thank you for reading about them in my other posts.
Consider their lives and how quickly they passed. Like scrolling through a file of pictures on the computer, seeing the age progression photos shows how time, and a life, go flashing by. Consider your own life. Let’s use the time we have to impact others in such a way that when they see our faces transforming through the years, they remember us fondly and wish we had been here longer.