memory

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This is a post that I seem to have written countless times in my head. One line here, another line there. At times bursts of whole paragraphs.

Sometimes though, it’s not a post at all, sometimes it’s simply a letter. A letter to be written, reflected on, and then gently folded away. After a time, brought out again once more.

These words that I stick together in fits and bursts are words that are accompanied by so much more. There are vivid pictures, and strong seductive smells, intense inner feelings and deep hidden emotions. In there is also probably more than my fair share of nostalgia. It’s my precious memories I’m talking about, and if I stored them in suitcases I think I would have a whole mountain of them.

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I’m not the first in my family to hold on to memories like a sacred gate keeper. My grandma before me is also one too. I held her hand recently to take a picture of it. Somehow I wanted to capture a tiny portion of her own memories that she held, before I no longer could.

These hands that had lived through a depression era, a world war. Hands that had held three children as they had traipsed their way to school. For eleven grandchildren, these hands had lovingly waved and told stories of the “olden days”. Hands that had now been lucky enough, as she says, to stroke the soft cheeks of five great grandchildren.

As a woman now in her 80’s, there’s a new found fragility to those hands, which is something that I have never known before.

Something that isn’t in my memory.

In the afternoon I took the photo, holding my Grandma’s soft skinned palm, and cool fingers in my mine- I felt her memories. Every single one of them.

In that moment I wanted to say a thousand things, but I didn’t. As the memories they got stuck, and they wouldn’t, couldn’t get out of my throat. Making a jumble of my words, my grandmother, I think she knew. As she held back her own choked words. Instead, I felt the soft, delicate skin of her hand and I was simply there.

As one day, I knew she wouldn’t be… but then, neither would I.

As I type this I can hear my boys muffled giggles. Through a closed door they are trying to be quiet while their little sister sleeps the afternoon in. My small sleeping girl’s memories are just emerging, and I wonder what it will be that both her and her brothers will choose to record for their own childhood memories. Will they carry them around in the suitcases that my Grandma and I seem to do, or simply leave them to the whirl of the winds? Something to be caught, held and then thrown free again at a moments notice.

Will they have memories of being carried high on strong shoulders? Will they remember those late afternoons at the beach and the salty smell of the sea as they ran towards it?

Maybe they’ll have a very small memory of their mother quietly holding their great grandmother’s hand in a sunny room, late one morning.

Or maybe, they’ll simply look at some of my old photographs.

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 ***************

If I’m lucky enough to get to my 80’s, I don’t think I would ever have too many photo’s. As we are living in such a digital age, my collection of photographs continues to get bigger and bigger. How could it not though? For nostalgic kind of people like me, well photos are a pretty wonderful tool. 

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been lucky enough to be loaned an Olympus OM-D E-M10 for a trial period of a couple of months, and I’ve loved seeing some of the things I can do with it, capturing some of those moments that I want to remember.

There’s an always growing collection of many photograph piles and files, along with my instagram account. So many of those little seemingly small insta squares have now got a little memory attached to it like a post it note on a fridge. My kids flick through them, making comment, like the way I used to do to our family photo albums when I was their age. (With this camera there is a nifty wifi function that can switch your pics to any social media or email to doting grandparents as well.)

Being a compact little camera it’s an easy one to carry around in my regular every day bag, rather than carry around something bigger and separate. And, if you like to edit your photos a bit, there are also Art Filter options- which can be done easily either in camera, or afterwards via the Olympus app on your phone.

Sometimes I use this function, and other times I just leave it as it is. As a raw moment.

A captured memory. 

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37 thoughts on “memory

  1. Brydie, this is one of your best posts ever (in my humble opinion)! I’ve re-read it twice. It struck a chord with me for so many reasons. The photo of your grandma’s hand made me teary. My grandma died two weeks ago, along with many of her memories. The little old suitcase (I have a pile of them too!) full of her letters is now one of my fave possessions. That camera has just gone onto my wish list – the size of it is ace (mine is huge and so damn heavy). Thanks for the lovely Sunday morning read. PS. Looks like you live near a pretty amazing rocky beach!

    • Lots of things I’d love to write to you dear Saskia…instead, I say a heartfelt thank you for, well you lovely. I suspect you’ll be the keeper of a lot of your grandmothers memories now, I also think she’d be pretty happy with that. xx

  2. Brydie, you are so lucky to have your Grandma with you still. And she is lucky to have a granddaughter who realises it. There are so many questions I would like to ask my Grandma now, but she died when I was a teenage girl. Beautiful photos – and beautiful words too.

  3. That is such a lovely post, even for a non-sentimental girl like me. Your photographs are beautiful, and so is story of your grandma and you being the gatekeepers of memory xo

  4. This is a very moving, beautiful post Brydie.

    On a practical level I wonder how you manage your photos and memories? Do you actually print many photos, how do you store and organise your precious digital photos? I continually add photos to old school photo albums…one each for each of my children. But, I have so many photos floating around and I wonder how other people handle them? Have a lovely Sunday x

    • Jane, I would like to have a better system, but it works enough for the moment until I change things up. So digital ones are filed- each child has their own for the year (birthday to birthday) any single shots of them go into those, 2 years, old 3 years etc. Family shots, or siblings together go under ‘family 2014′ – which is by calendar year. It’s a really easy way for me to find what I want. Then I’ve got oodles of other different files- holiday, out and about etc. (Blog photo files are all divided up as well, in case I need them again.)
      There are books in the pipelines, which should be a little less heavy than the old school photo albums, but yet to do that…the sorting for that is just daunting!

  5. Others have said it so well above but yes, tears welled in my eyes as I read it as a lot rang true with me too. What a beautiful post! My Nan isn’t around anymore but my Mum has taught us to appreciate history so we’ve all taken bits and pieces from her and I’m doing my best to keep that history going – keeping all of my diaries/journals, letters, and now digital diaries (http://dayoneapp.com/) too that I hope to figure out how to put into a printed album soon.

    Yes, how DO people keep track of their digital photos??? I use iPhoto but I’ve always been concerned over the fact that the program will become obsolete … in 10 or so years, but no, it’s happened a lot quicker than that so I’ve been saving my digital photo’s manually as well as via the “burn DVD” option and auto back up. I’m soooo behind since having my little girl 2.5 years ago and I have no idea how I’m going to catch up but I have to so I can upgrade to the new system. I’m desperately trying to make some printed photo books to keep but just can’t get past the millions of photos I’ve got to keep downloading.

    … That’s what I’ll be doing once I get off here – more backing up.

    Thanks again for your beautiful posts!

    • That is the slight down side to taking so many photos isn’t it, all the backing up. It’s never ending and I never seem to get on top of that one. Computer, phone, ipad…I think you’ve prompted me to do the same today. Thank YOU!

      • Yep, never ending alright! I can’t seem to keep up … It feels reassuring to know I’m not the only one. I’m glad I’ve inspired you to do more backing up. I started off doing the “family”, “out and about”, “holidays” etc but now I’ve stuck to keeping them in order of dates. A year, month, separate event folder with date to begin with. Just time consuming once you get behind on it. We’ll get there. Can’t wait to get onto the yearly (half yearly?) albums although very daunting at the same time!

  6. Our lives are so precious to us, the whole world ebbs and flows around us and we are a series of synapses, sensations, sensual awareness and thought all tangled up with a physical presence that can deliver us into our experiences. Life is such an amazing thing. We are born, we journey through the processes of understanding our commonality with each other, of being taught the “laws” and the rules and the unspoken rules and we grow, we become who we are and we start to learn all over again how precious our lives are when we start to lose those incredibly influential and important people in our lives. I think that memories are the threads that hold us all together. If they don’t get documented they dissolve like clouds and morph like Chinese whispers into something else. The centre of the universe becomes thinner as we age along with our skin and we become more aware, more in tune, with who and what we are and our place in the scheme of things. Every life is precious and every memory that colours our lives is the icing on the cake that gives us our presence. I loved this post. I loved your grandmothers hand. I loved the raw and open honesty that flows and ebbs in your words and I am so glad that I follow this blog :)

  7. Lovely post. I was just saying to my husband this week how I wished I could go back in time and sit with my Nana again. I’ve just picked up knitting needles for the first time in years and all those memories came flooding back of her teaching me how to knit and how to do so many other practical homemaking skills. I’ll never forget her while I make pastry, sort through a button box or thread a needle. But now I’m feeling tearful, just as I could hear your emotions in the tenor of your words.

    • It’s a pretty wonderful way to feel connected isn’t it Deb. All those skills that she taught you, while on a practical level help enormously but on an emotional level…you just wouldn’t trade it for the world.

  8. truly beautiful brydie..i remember another photo you took of your grandmother’s hand that you posted and i loved it then as i do with this one..she has the most beautiful hands..

    when my grandmother hazel was alive i cherished and savoured every moment i had with her..now that she is gone i feel though that so much of her essence has been absorbed into me that she lives on and travels with me in my life..x

    • That first photo was the first time my Grandma held my daughter. Thank you for remembering it Jane.
      I adore the idea of your grandmother’s essence living on travelling with you in your life…absolutely adore it.

  9. You got me, Brydie , you really got me with your memories and photos. Like a kind little arrow struck through the heart you made me cherish many things today.
    ps when are you writing a book?

  10. Just beautiful!! I’m reminded of a song about memories that always brought me to tears. I think it was by Margaret Urlich but I’m not sure. You would love it. I feel the same way you do about memories. My engagement ring was my grandmothers engagement ring and I felt so connected to her when I used to lay my hand on my pregnant belly. I imagined her doing exactly the same thing. Thank you for a lovely post!

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  12. Great stuff Brydie! I think your skill as a photographer is enhanced by the way you weave your images into a story to share. I love the contrasts and the similarities between your photos, playful and thoughtful at the same time. Always a treat to wander through one of your posts for me! Lovely lovely work xx

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