Family Photo Albums

Photogrief / Photogrief : Eleanor Haley

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While home for the holidays I visited my sister who now lives in my childhood home. One of the first things I did after setting my kids loose to play with their cousins was head up to the attic.  In my lifetime the attic has served many different functions, but currently it is a playroom for the four (almost five) young children who live there.

Evidently my sister inherited quite a few of our childhood toys when she bought the house from my father, because it is now overflowing with toys that predate even my youth in the 80's. If you saw the room, with it's rows of troll dolls and bins of old Cabbage Patch Kid dolls, you might think my sister's a hoarder - but the truth is that she's just a nostalgic person who can't throw away anything with a face.  That, and she has been entrusted with the responsibility of holding onto many of the family relics which remain in the home; including the old family photo albums, which are what brought me into the attic in the first place.

I head for the eaves and after I bit of searching I find two cardboard boxes staffed with loose photos and the old albums.  Each album is labeled with a year  - '83, '84,'85 - and each house polaroids, school photos, and snapshots from the corresponding year and commentary from my family, who at one point set out to write memories and notes alongside the photos.  I open up '83 because it's the year my younger brother was born and today, Christmas Eve, is his birthday.

I navigate to the end of the year and find several pages of photos and comments from my mother about the Christmas of '83.  This treasure is a rare glimpse into what she was thinking as a mother of 4 children and a new born baby and it is testament to her love for her children and family.  If you don't write notes for your children and family to read, start now - please!

Despite it being Christmas and my mother being extremely pregnant, my father was away for work. And although my grandmother was on her way from Massachusetts, my mother was alone in our home in Syracuse, New York when she went into labor on Christmas Eve.  A family friend took her into the hospital and she gave birth that day.  The next day, devastated at the idea of the children having neither of their parents on Christmas Day, she plead with the doctors to let her go home.  She wrote the story over the course of several pages but in the photo above her words read:

"Gooey burger and mac and cheese for Xmas dinner? It's the best I could do, I gave birth the day before.  

The Dr. allowed me to bring Owen home when I explained my plight. The nurses were not happy."

What have you found in your old family photo albums?  Submit and share.

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