Then and Now

A little blue velvet suit, reminding me of The Blue Boy painting, was discovered in my grandma’s basement when we were sorting through her memories after her death. It was my dad’s. We also found photos of my dad in the said suit. Looking chubby and a little off balance, still a toddler. There were rust stains on the suit, marks of time in a trunk, in a basement. I found a way to have it cleaned and brought back to it’s full blue velvet glory, and then I put it carefully in my closet. It was too big for my son, who was still a baby.

A little flowered dress, from my mom’s childhood, and a baby niece. Reminding me of Sleeping Beauty when the good fairies give the spells before the child’s life has hardly begun. A little velvet suit and a little flowered dress await.

Time passes. A trip to Iowa on the horizon. We’ll all go and wouldn’t it be fun to take my niece’s photo in front of the hundred year old farm house where our mother grew up? Even better to conspire with the cousins and do it when mom is busy at her high school reunion? We find a wrought iron bucket and some apples and straw. She walks in and out of the frame, as a two year old will, but the sun sets big and wide in Iowa and we have time.

Time travel to Berkeley and we meet the delightful new inhabitants of our other grandma’s house. They love it as much as we did, hard to let it go, but to good people. Another two year old, my son this time. Two-year-olds have their own ideas, not usually related to mine, but we get the image we wanted. We’ve gone back in time while remaining firmly in the present and created a new memory.

There is something immensely special about tying generations together in the same story. We, as parents, become the bridge and the love we feel for our parents and grandparents only magnifies when we include our children in the story. This was a personal project for me when I first started in professional photography, but it’s ripple has spread. Genealogy is more than names in a data base. It is made up of real people who lived every day lives, just like us. To celebrate our family from the past with those who will pass us into the future is a gift of unimaginable measure.