“So, Dad, your eightieth birthday’s coming up. How do you want to celebrate? I’m not giving you a surprise party.”
“Y’all surprised me for my seventieth birthday.”
“We did?” I listened as he reminded me of the time he found the family in the rear of a restaurant, waiting to commemorate his seventy years of life.
“Oh, yeah, that was fun, but what do you want to do this year?”
After very little discussion, he decided that he just wanted a low-key family dinner: no cake, no candles, no singing, and I’m sure he meant to say no gifts. I’ll have to check. He called Sno’s to set it up and since I’ve had nothing to do for the big day, I decided to gather photographs for my daughter and son-in-law to put onto a DVD.
Ever go through eighty years of pictures? It was an emotional journey through time as memories lured by snapshots swam to the surface of my mind. I have relived my grandmother’s birthday parties, (figuring her age by the approximate ages of the children in the pictures), weddings, graduations and so many ordinary days when someone thoughtfully picked up a camera and captured a moment.
While I’m grateful for each and every photographer and family member who has held on to these printed memories, I wish names and dates had been written on more of them. My family spent the past week pouring over pictures and guessing identities and ages, but speculation was unnecessary when it came to the photographs of two dogs. Yes, dogs. I turned over the picture of the first one to find “DASHER” printed neatly on the back and “taken by Eula Duhon” right above it. A name and a photo credit! The picture of the other dog was also labeled: “Skippy,” three and a half months, 3/12/43. Name, age, date. If only the succeeding generations had followed this lead.
The project of collecting pictures for my dad’s birthday DVD was fun and led to another one: little by little I will write information on the backs of pictures for my granddaughters to one day read.
I’ve even thought of a project, but it’s one my dad has to work on. I want him to record his stories. Maybe I will get him a birthday gift after all. A digital recorder sounds nice.Ronny may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.