In my mind when I think about my parents and their wedding pictures. I always had thought this image was from their wedding day! My mom was 6 months pregnant and I recall seeing her wedding dress in her closet growing up, it was white and not much longer than this dress. Hene the confusion. But mom said no they never had a photo taken on their wedding day. When looking through their album of polaroid pictures before I was born, I was sure that is what I had seen their wedding pictures. I knew it was a small ceremony as in all 5 people. The album is of 4x4 polaroids those years, and I remember studying it so much when I was younger. I felt like I had stepped into another secret time, mystified that all this life went on before I was even around. It honestly blew my mind in my childhood. I wonder if all the children of couples whom I have photographed, feel the same mystification of their parent's life before them like I did. I highly encourage the power of an album. My parents didn't have a wedding album, even though my Dad liked photography and shortly after they were married he purchased a camera and took pictures for my aunts and uncles wedding. Funny how that works, the photographer without their own wedding picture.
Albums allow children to open them up and look through the pages, so whether you get an album from me, your photographer, or you make it yourself, make albums! It will enhance your children's memories of their family which they can take with them into their adult years like I did.
Marriage Proposal Via Letters
On one of my visits home from college with my parents, I asked them about dating each other. I remember it was over dinner and being the curious person I am, I had a lot of questions. It was at that dinner that I learned how my parents came to be married, how my mom instead of going off to the peace corp stayed in the states, married my dad and started a family.
It was February of 1968 and my Mom was in her senior year of college and my Dad had just taken off for boot camp in the Marines. Mom wrote to him to tell him she was pregnant with my older sister, Sheryl. Because of boot camp in the marines, young recruiters didn't often get mail. Mom had to wait 2-3 weeks to get a reply. My Dad wrote back that they should get married after she graduated in June. My Dad said it wasn't really a proposal like one knee will you marry me, but it seemed like the right thing to do and his only choice. My parents had dated at that point for 7 years. My Dad liked my Mom as soon as he had moved to Vermont and met her at Springfield High School. He said he liked her smile. He used to ask her to tutor him in French so he could spend time with her. My Mom is French Canadian and he probably thought that was clearly a good idea. My Dad would go to her house on Sundays for family dinners and help my grandmother with the dishes after. My Dad said that impressed grammy because grampa didn't do the dishes and didn't believe their boys should either. My Dad used to buy my mom perfume, Chanel 5 perfume for gifts. Sill does at Christmas. He used to write her love poems and still does. My mom saves them. He would hitchhike to go see her in college. One of those times landed him in a car crash that sent him through a windshield and in the hospital with a head injury. Some of that head injury might be playing into his latest concussion symptoms. Whether my Dad will remember all of his stories or not remains to be seen, I remember! I can recall sitting at the kitchen table being amazed that all of these big emotional life decisions were being made slowly over time at the will of the US Postal Services. It still has an impression on me.
One of the things I would hate for us lose as a society is the sharing of each other's stories being told in person. Spending time together allows stories to happen. And in this time of immediate gratification and isolation, I look back to the patience my mom must have had, even being hormonal and pregnant, to wait weeks for a reply! And how impatient we can get waiting for a text reply. I am sure if I can put myself in her shoes then, that she knew a letter would come. And it did. If it hadn't been for my older sister coming into the world, my parents may not have married and I wouldn't be here! My mom would have been off somewhere in the Peace Corp. and my dad probably would have been sent overseas to Vietnam had he not been married. As it was he didn't. He recalls being asked if he wanted to go and he replied, " if you are asking I do not want to go. If you are telling me to go I will, but if you are giving me the choice, I do not want to go." Such an answer my Dad would give - being very clear on the intent of the language used. He served his 4 years and left the marines, and then I came along! and 14 years after that, I began using the very camera he bought after my sister was born! I still have that camera. I will always keep it and give it to my Lucia along with all the other career camera purchases I keep.
It is good to recall family stories, and remember a life that was so very different from the lives we live today. Pictures are wonderful to help start conversations. And sitting around an album and talking is a great way to have those stories be told. It is my hope that the images I take of families over the years, get printed and serve as such a vice for coming together and storytelling.
Meeting people and hearing their stories is another reason why I love to photograph people. Thanks for reading and have a great day. :) ~Sharyn