Revisiting Old Memories, Coloring New Ones


This photo, from Mom’s 85th birthday luncheon this past Monday speaks more than a thousand words to me and it’s one of the reasons I love taking pictures. You simply never know what you’ll capture. Here’s a little background on the photo.

While waiting for other family members to arrive for the luncheon, our house was full of activity. My cousin Bonita and Kendal had a tea party, Tim and Paul snacked on cheese and crackers and raved over the final taste-testing of Tim’s pasta dish, and Herb and I discussed cable tv programming honoring Black History Month.

Of the many photos that we took, it was THIS one that put the entire day, and even LIFE itself, into perspective for me. There are three mothers in the photo, two of whom have been mothers and friends longer than many of us have been alive, and the other a fairly new mom of a little more than two years. Mom and Mrs. Adams, who has known me for my entire life, are enjoying Mom’s book of memories that she made during her senior year of high school. You have to strain to read some of what Mom wrote back then, as it was written in what appears to be white chalk that is starting to fade in many places. Yet Mom could name everyone in those pictures, and she and Mrs. Adams giggled at times while looking at pictures of Mom’s “handsome” and “cute” classmates.

The commentary Mom added back then to her now sixty-five year old photo album is priceless and timeless. It’s that commentary that has given me a glimpse into her amazing sense of humor that had faded quite a bit by the time I was born, much like the ink identifying her photos in her album. I believe it’s Mom’s dementia that has restored her sense of humor to the period of her care-free high school days. For that, I’m grateful. Watching two best friends in their eighties reflecting on their youth with such joy is indescribable, especially because it’s the only period about which Mom can converse.

The photo is also about youth and the new generation. Kim and Kendal are sprawled on the floor, a box of crayons and one piece of paper between them. There were other chairs and plenty of table space for them to color on, but Kendal loves being on the floor and coloring is one of her favorite activities. As I’ve said many times before, Kim is an amazing mother! I love how she ALWAYS meets Kendal “where she is”, physically and emotionally. If Kendal wants to do flips and handstands on the floor, Kim is right there (and Kim can actually still DO a handstand). If Kendal wants to lay on the floor and color, Kim grabs a crayon too. If she’s fussy and needs a nap, which occurred not long after this photo was taken, Kim’s more than willing to lie down right next to her.

Kim reminds me of all that I remember my Mom doing for me (minus the handstands). Mom always met me exactly where I was, and gave me just what I needed, even if it was a financial or emotional strain for her.
We probably threw away the paper that Kim and Kendal colored on that day. What we didn’t throw away were any of the memories, old or new. I pray that forty years from now Kim will be sitting on a couch with her best friend talking about the memories from her life today and that Kendal will be sprawled on the floor making memories with her family.

Our picture of Life isn’t always going to be filled with happy bright colors as there will be plenty of dark colors mixed in and shades of grey too. I believe that we should seize every opportunity in our lives to “color” the memories we can control as brightly as possible, so when the dark colors do invade our lives, they may be a little more bearable. So, what memories will you “color” today? Whatever they are, I hope they’re beautiful and life-giving! Thanks for the memories Mom and Happy 85th birthday! Love you always!


5 thoughts on “Revisiting Old Memories, Coloring New Ones

  1. OMG!!!!! WHAT A PICTURE….You’re right!!!! I can’t t
    Thank You ENOUGH for this post! Kendal certainly brightly colors my world, even when my world is dark. Meeting her where she is, is the easy part and I need her to always know that I’m there! I pray her first memory of me is loving. I pray that as she grows, she has a strong sense of family and wisdom. This picture will be important as she grows! THANK YOU for always creating an overwhelmingly loving space for us!! 🙂

  2. I LOVE Kendal’s tutu. My friends thought it would somehow be my just desserts to end up with a “girlie girl,” but God knew better even though I was somewhat perplexed when I found out I was having a boy. His hand is always in it as is very much evident as you walk this path with your mom and family and share it with us. Happy birthday to your mom! Lisa J.

  3. Loretta you have such a way of words. Your memories will last a life time. Just think of all the great things to come. We are bound for a life together and all our time together will be precious.

  4. From the far away West coast, as I read your narrative, view the pictures, listen to the video of this very special birthday for your mother and my Cousin Doris, I feel as if I was right there with you all. I sense this day far exceeded your expectations and for that I am so HAPPY! Just a wonderful and amazing day! Thank you for sharing your loving thoughts. And, your mother is so very LUCKY to have a wonderful daughter as you. She raised you to be very loving and caring and you do demonstrate that daily to all in your life. Love you, Winnie

  5. Tim is so right about your gift with words. The way you tied the generations together in this loving photo and then reached out to the future. Thank-you for being in my life and for the gifts you bring to our world. Love, Louise

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