You've seen the memes, the pictures that tell you to "just take her photo, she doesn't want only selfies as memories with her kids". And that's so very true.
But it's not just for her. It's for those kids. Its for her grand-kids, and maybe even their kids. And it's so very important.
I'm going to tell you a bit of a sad story, you've been warned.
My mom died when I was 25. Before I had kids, before I had a pregnancy go to term and I met my beautiful rainbow baby. Before I knew to ask mom a billion questions about motherhood. And she was a great mom. She was strong, and real, and made me feel like I could do anything. She basically adopted my husband as her own and taught him how to drive. She showed him exactly what she had spent a lifetime showing me - that he could do anything, that he was worth more than gold. (He is. She was right. But that's besides the point).
So I had this amazing mom, but when my daughter made her entrance into this world, when I was 27, the realization that mom would never meet her came crashing down, hard. When my son arrived I cried a little harder - she'd never know her only grandson. But more importantly, they would never know her. The void of that is something they will never know - but I know it.
So, the only way to for me fill that void in my heart, is to sit down with those boxes and albums of photos. To play the music she blasted teaching me to drive (Josh Groban's - You Raise Me Up. We blew the back speaker in her old Malibu playing those bagpipes too loud. I still edit to it regularly) and the box of photos that spell out my childhood and times before me. I learn more about her, my Oma, and my Grandpa every time I open that box.
Because with those photos I can show my daughter that her eyes are the same colour as her Oma's. And when she looks at me sometimes I can see my mom from her Grade 2 photo. I can show her how Oma dove deep under water with Grandpa - she swam with 6 gill sharks and pet eels and they brought me back fragile shells of anemone. I can show her that she rode far away with Grandpa on a motorcycle through a forest of trees much larger than any here in Grande Prairie. They towered above and were so large around you would need at least 3 friends to hug it the whole way round! I can show her that she rode horses and penned cows. And she was beautiful in every decade and style.
I can show her what her Grandpa looked like when he was young, and as a father, and all the things he was in between then and now. I can show her that her Great Grandfather had style and was such a huge character. That he served for our country, and that he was a farmer, a husband and a father too. I can show her what her Overgrootmoeder (great grandmother) looked like as a child - before the war and husbands and children. I can show her that I was someone before her too.
As I've mentioned, my dad is a photographer - so of course my life is documented well on film and print. Alternatively my husband's mom lost most of their photos in a flood many years ago. There's nothing here, far away from family, to spark that memory or story like a box or album full of photos can. He has some, sure. And he's told me some great stories from those water damaged photos and the ones we've collected from relatives. But when placed side by side, I wish his box held more stories - it's a bit like a novel with half the pages ripped out.
So take the photo- but print it too (and back it up)! Because who knows what technology will be when our memories start to fade. Will Facebook still host my album from when I was 19 and so proud of my first apartment? Maybe, but you know what will survive (bar flood or fire, of course) - those prints. Hell, we still have my Oma and Opa's albums - they made it across the ocean from Holland! Their wedding and families and life as a children before WW2. Black and whites of my mom and aunts and uncles. My grandma and grandpa have the same - 50 years of marriage in print (and thanks to my dad, now saved in digital as well). Even my husband has his Grandfather in Vietnam, holding a snake that intimidates me in print.
So yeah, take the photo. Print it. And go through it every once in a while and remember.