Updating Memory Lane
My favourite room in my childhood home has always been the mudroom Hall of Fame with its floor-to-ceiling collection of framed photos. Even when the sensor stops working and the lights don’t come on, few visitors to my parents’ home miss out on taking a look. Some even notice the stuff of family lore, like black and white photos from the 80s of my parents having drinks with The Cure or my dad at the piano with Nana Mouskouri. I see the picture of my younger sister and I as kids, wildly dancing without a care in the world.
Many of the homes I visit offer similar clues of happy memories in people’s lives. Old photos are always wonderful conversation starters and a great way to uncover a piece of someone’s story. One of the first projects I had with Janet* was unpacking a dusty box of photo albums that we lovingly sorted to create a memory frame. Janet’s favourite picture rediscovery was from her childhood, a snapshot of her smiling as she sat on a rocking horse. She has decorated the walls of her suite with precious photos of her sons and late husband, but there are no photos from recent times.
Reminiscing about the past can be fulfilling, but more recent reminders of happy days can be reassuring. For the past few months, I’ve been on a mission to try and capture Janet at joyful moments. Yesterday, I arrived with a collection of printed photos of our visits and a new empty frame. While perusing the photos, we chatted about our outings and projects since the summer, and we both seemed surprised by how much we had accomplished in just a few months. After much deliberation, Janet selected to hang a photo taken on a sunny day at the Toronto Botanical Garden. She told me she chose it because she felt free there. I have a similar memory of that day. I remember it as the first time I saw Janet genuinely smile, as we were finally doing something she loved: getting outside in the fresh air, surrounded by nature’s beauty.
It might seem a little old fashioned, but why not print a favourite cell phone pic to give yourself a memory to smile about today? If you come across a special shot of a senior loved one, bring it to them. It’s never too late to frame new memories.
*Name changed for privacy.
Photo credit: Melanie Gordon