Thursday, December 07, 2006

Memories Are Made of This

My mother and I took my grandparents out for lunch yesterday.

After driving them back home, I asked about an old photograph of me I believed they had. It was a photograph of me drawing. It was taken at kindergarten and I remember it clearly. It used to hang in my grandparent's bedroom before they moved to the retirement village.

I remember my childhood face looking at the camera as I leant over my drawing in purple crayon on yellow paper, (back then with no idea I was producing a complimentary colour harmony work). I remember often looking at that photograph when visiting my grandparents as a child and thinking about how I wanted to, and was going to, be an artist.

In searching for this photo, (which I did not end up finding), I fossicked through dozens of others, some dating back to the 30's and 40's, before my grandparents came to Australia. ( My grandmother is German, my grandfather, Russian. My mother was born in Germany in 1947. The three of them travelled by boat to Australia in 1949. My mother had her second birthday whilst on board. The journey took around 4 weeks ).

My grandparents moved to the retirement village around 7 years ago, and in moving to a much smaller place, many things were either disposed of or placed into boxes. It had been a long, long time since my grandparents had looked at these photos and I was so glad I took them out yesterday.

That shoebox was full of so many memories, both joyful and sad. It was a beautiful moment for three generations of my family to be sharing those memories together. Watching the expressions on my mother's face as she looked through photos of herself as a little girl, some taken on the boat on which she arrived in Australia. My gradmother's expressions as she looked at early photographs of her family, before and after marriage and motherhood. My grandfather boasting about how handsome he was whilst looking at images of his young self and remembering his days as a draftsman.

From the little doll of my mothers that her brother destroyed to the house my grandfather built in Altona when they first arrived here - every single picture told a story that at least one of us remembered clearly and we told some of these stories to each other as we looked through these images from our family's history.

Some of my favourites were those of my mother as a little girl on the boat and a wonderful image of my grandmother with their first television set.

Despite not finding the photograph I was looking for, I was happy to discover and rediscover so many others. I had not seen my grandmother smile this much in a long time. It was truly special and reminded me of the importance of documentation.

No comments: