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Thursday, January 12, 2017

OLD PHOTOS


Have you ever gone into your box of old photos and rediscovered your life? Do you see the people in them staring back at you, just like they did so many years ago, speaking to you through their eyes?

Does the black and whiteness of the pictures, with the faded paper and torn edges remind you that it was long ago and that like the paper, your memories were fading?  Does Grandpa in his gray fedora or grandma in her rose-covered dress and ever present apron still call you back home, and when they do, do you respond in your heart and soul? I do.

Do you see the family in front of the large dining room table, all looking back at you, Aunt Angie standing in the background, Aunt rose sitting next to Uncle Joe, Aunt Mary holding cousin Vinny and Uncle Frank next to Grandpa? All with their eyes reminding you of laughs, great food and the love that seemed awash in the spirit just as the photo captured it.

Are there dishes filled with food, maybe a large platter of pasta sitting on the table, a pitcher of home-made wine nearby? Or is it pastry and nuts, empty wine glasses that measured the time in refills, demitasse cups with anisette, and maybe the aroma of a cigar? Pictures hold us to the moment, sweet and lasting.

The sound of Italian, punctuated by the wave of the hands that supplement the passion of the people in the photo, do you miss that too? I do. The men in their ties and the women in their dresses, proudly holding their future, you, somewhere in the picture, remind me that they are the past now and we hold our future, our grandchildren.

How many of us made our First Holy Communion, and stood for the ‘official' portrait outside our home, maybe with a parked car or even piece of a fender sticking out? And how many of us were recipients of money, quietly folded into our little hands by a favorite aunt or uncle, with their index finger guarding their lips to remind us not to say anything. I do, too.

How many of us were squeezed until we couldn't breathe, our cheeks pinched until they hurt, but all loving, even if the fingers smelled of garlic or parsley or even basil? Italian love was all it was, and like a scar, it stays in the heart, forever.

And when you arrived at your grandparent's home, maybe an aunt or uncle, the rainiest day became sunny, the smell of cooking and the question: "Why are you so skinny? EAT! MANGIA! Still, lingers in your heart to this day?

When you gathered with cousins for the first time in a while, you noticed something different; they were bigger or combed their hair different, all showing you the march of time, the march you didn't recognize until you started to get older. Do you see that in an old photo, too?

How many of us were teased about a girlfriend or how we looked or even how we reacted to those stogie old gentlemen we called uncles. And our aunts, makeup and hair combs, all dolled up for a holiday saying: "MY, how you've grown!" In the pictures, they still say those things.

Pictures are a wonderful thing, they are important because they become historical documentation for future generations to trace their blood line, and funny thing, their looks. But beyond that, they reinforce our love for those who passed, we will miss their kindness, their talents, their morals and the lessons of family, love of life and God and country. God bless them all. I know I would.

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