Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Glory of a Picture



The unspoken power of a photo, the beauty of an image, the emotion of the visual. Why are we drawn to photos? What happens to us that when we see a picture, we want more than just a glimpse of a few seconds in the life of another, but also yearn to imagine all that is frozen in that capture of time.


My fingers trace around my mother's beautiful face, I see her cheekbones, her slim shoulders, I look at her. So young and at that moment, was her life happy? My sister rests in her arms, leaning in, effortless in her trust of my mother's presence. Were the days for my mother and her small family then, tranquil, full of Sundays spent drifting away hours in the river?


When she rode her father's horses, along with her sister and her brother, could she have imagined he'd be gone before reaching adulthood? Would she have stayed in these mountains forever without the bother of time? And how did I know without even looking closely at this photo that my mother was a woman who would not be riding side-saddle.


What dreams and wishes did my mother and father secretly hold behind their gaze here, as they smiled for someone with a camera? Did she hold a secret of a new life within her? Had she already whispered this to my father? Or was it all just this, the moment. The bliss of a sultry breeze that makes the promise of being young, eternal.


The glistening threads in our lives, did my mother here know it? That look she gives my sisters, right then and there, did she feel herself wrapped in the strands of spun gold that would make up her tapestry? It's the pull I feel, of what I see in her face, questions asked more than answered.


I tell myself, that this, all of this here, is what brought a silent smile to my mother's lips as the wind blew her hair that afternoon we spent on the lake's bluff. This photo making eternal the last time I'd be able to take her to feel the sun and return her if only for an hour, back to the mountains of Colombia.

The stand-still breathlessness that a photo gives us, more than what we see with our eyes, sweeping us away with an image that frees hopes and opens hearts to see all that isn't there -- the never ending story; one that makes it possible for us to see the before, the after, the during. The moment.

Life is an exquisite work in progress, burning with an intensity through our minutes and hours with a perfect whitehot fire that leave words failing, and unable to capture. So we try and hold it instead -- like a butterfly fluttering against our cupped hands.

With a fragile, foolish hope of keeping her here forever, I look at my mother, and take a picture.

* * *
**As many of you know, my mother passed away August 5. I want to thank you, for holding me up, in this loss, that words cannot explain. Thank you.

39 comments:

  1. Beautifully said and I agree.

    Love the images!

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  2. Beautiful. All of it. It is so true that we use images captured to help trigger memories, and so our moments and memories live on with others long after we are gone. xo

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    1. Oh, dear friend, can you believe it? I've lost my mother. Thank you so much for your love this week.

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  4. Yes. You nailed it with this one. It reminds of that quote by Ansel Adams:

    “You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”

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    1. I love this, Erin, I have never read it, but how I understand it. Thank you.

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  5. "The beauty ofa photo is not what we see with our eyes, but is the image that helps us to see all that isn't there"
    I love this! I think of this as the soul of a snapshot.
    What a beautiful post.

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    1. Robin, this is wonderful--to meet you like this. I thank you for your kind words.

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  6. Beautiful pictures and beautiful sentiment.

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    1. Thank you for your visits this week, and last, DMB: It's been tougher than I can even explain. It'd be a whole lot tougher, if I didn't have all of you here, to listen. Thank you. xo

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  7. Beautifully said.

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  8. Love these pictures and the last line in this post is lovely.

    "Life is an exquisite work in progress, burning with a perfect whitehot fire that words are unable to capture, so we try and hold it instead -- like a butterfly fluttering against our cupped hands -- with a fragile, foolish hope of keeping the moment forever, I take a picture."

    Excellent writing.

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  9. I love these pictures so much.

    Over the last few weeks, I have thought again and again how blessed we have all been for you to pull back the curtain and share your family with us. Your mom has touched so many lives through your words and sharing. And you have reminded us what is important, and how to live each moment with grace. Thank you for this.

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  10. Beautiful. Seriously, beautiful.xo

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  11. How beautiful. Photos are super powerful to me, and sometimes my feelings at looking at them contrast greatly with the ease of taking them. Looking at old photos can bring up so much emotion, I sometimes avoid them because of their power to evoke memories. I am sure now -- that for the rest of your life -- photos of your mother will bring up a whole kaleidoscope of feelings -- some good, some bad, some clouded in nostalgia. Accept all of those contradictory feelings. May these photos always remind you of the love between the two of you, and of a proud woman's life well lived.

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  12. Photos have the power to transport us to another time and place. The photos of my children are the most cherished things I own. THe rare photo of my mother and father, before they were my parents, tell me a story of the people the were. I cherish these photos because I never got to know those people. Photos are electricity they connect our past, present and our future. They tell the story of our life and they can stir emotions that we never knew we had and trigger memories that we forgot we had.
    The photos are a nice tangible reminder of your mother but she lives with you always in your heart, in your soul, in your spirit; the way you laugh, think and carry yourself in the world. She lives in the smiles of your children and your mothering heart. Your beautiful soul is a testament to the woman she was and the life she lived. You are her legacy and what an amazing legacy she left. So much love Alexandra. XOXO

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  13. Photos help trigger memories and to me the memories trigger emotion and feeling. All of which we long for especially when someone we love we've lost.

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  14. Can we talk about your father's magic blouse for a moment?
    I've never been able to tie mine like that and have them look good.

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    1. You always make me laugh, Susan. Thank you. (it is quite a number, isn't it? Wondering, silk, maybe?) aaargh.

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  15. I completely understand this. The last 4 years of my mom's life I probably drove her crazy with the photos, camera always at my side, ready to capture the moments. Like the one of her with Devin on grandparent's day at his school. The last one she would ever attend. I think back to how a week before he had brought her the paper and said,'Memaw I know you haven't felt good, and if you don't want to come I will understand. But I am afraid if you don't come then you will be gone and it will never happen.' Something in the way he said it struck me and her. She agreed to go with a whish of her hand as if to wave away his silly ideas that she would not be here for long, as if his words didn't concern her, when they did me. And if I don't stop I will have written a blog post, when instead I think I will make it a blog post and link it to here.. I totally understand it now..

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    1. Angel, please make it a blog post. xo

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  16. This reminds me of a quote by Dorothea Lange:

    “While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.”

    Lovely, my friend.

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  17. Wow. I love those photos. They seem so vivid in a way photos don't today. I love your description of them.

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  18. I'm hoping you have a lot more photos like this. I'd love to see all of them.

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  19. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos with us. Since my aunt died last Tuesday I have been taking such comfort in the pictures we put together for her service and that others have given us. They really are like a band aid, to help with the healing. Please know my thoughts are with you! xo

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    1. Oh, Kathy: I am so sorry. I lost my aunt this past february. So many memories. And the photos are immeasurable in how they aid in bringing those exceptional moments, back. xo

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  20. So very very true and poignant. I love the pictures. Getting a glimpse to the background of who your mom was. I love how photographs are just moments frozen in time. I always thinks it the closest thing to Harry Potter pensieve to being able to go back remember. Truly remember.

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  21. This is incredibly beautiful and touching.
    <3

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  22. I love seeing her as a young woman, and comparing your life now to what she was doing in her younger years.

    And NOT sidesaddle. I love that.

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  23. This made me cry.

    It was beautiful.

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  24. I love these photographs and that you are able to experience life through your mother's eyes every time you look at them.

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  25. So full of beauty and insight. I've had three close friends lose a parent or grandparent these past three days and I so needed this.

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  26. There will always be something about the power of a photo. Always. It will always have the ability to transport us, to recall a memory, a thought, a feeling/emotion. Wondering about others' lives as we view their photos, the photos they never gave stories to, the photos we have to make up our own stories for, will always hold great appeal for me. I tend to make all the stories happy, to believe that I was present and loving and that yes, my loved one knew it, felt it. Your mom did. I know it. Because I can feel it too.

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  27. You continue to deliver these beautiful tributes to your mother and we continue to learn how important it is to hold dear those we love. Thank you so much for sharing her - and you - with us. xo

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  28. That was one of your most beautiful posts ever.

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    1. Hillary, thank you. I miss her so much.

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