Monday, March 16, 2009

Alive in a Snapshot World

I've been gratefully receiving much positive feedback about the eulogy I wrote for my father-in-law, David (below). With my husband sitting shiva in Jerusalem, and days filled with phone calls of condolence, I find the rest of my life eerily on hold. Everywhere I look, Zayde is there, as he always was. You see, as a compulsive photographer, insistent (to my children's chagrin) on documenting as much of our precious life as I can, I have hundreds of photos of him among the 33,000 digital photos on my computer and at least that many taken with my film SLR before I went digital.

Before digital (for me, January, 2004), I'd print doubles of my photos and put many of them up on a bulletin board over my desk, inside my clothes closet--even in the medicine chest. This is a bone of contention with my husband, as he thinks them supreme clutter. To me, they are moments of life that I relive with every glance. Since the clever invention of slideshow screensavers, I sometimes waste time with the arrow buttons speeding up the slide show (or dwelling on photos I want to savor longer), jumping from one year, one festivity, one poignant heart-tug of my life to the next. Because I was there for every one of them, each photo is a literal time snapshot that instantly recalls an entire scene and envelops me with the emotions of that moment.

A couple years ago, I got new kitchen countertops, a combination of butterscotch travertine and a display tray about a half-inch deep topped with glass. My latest exhibit is a collection of photos, many in colorful frames, interspersed with sparkling trinkets. I enjoy it every day, though I did hear my husband mutter with disdain just a week or two ago that I've expanded my clutter even into our shared kitchen world.
But it is partially because of my photos that I'm having trouble accepting that Zayde is gone. There he is in my kitchen, in the same places he's been, hugging my daughter, hiking a verdant path with us, posing with the family at my son's bar mitzvah gathering in our back yard. I'm looking at him now, smiling down from my bulletin board with the rest of us, with a mountain peak and fir forest behind. There he is to my right, surrounded by his sons and grandkids, poised near a Colorado lake.

I lost my own parents four and six years ago. They are still real to me, grinning from walls and from my kitchen counter and in countertop frames. That they remain so clear; that my dad's voice I still hear in my mind, grants me some ease with the passing of Zayde, because he, too, can remain with me in his snapshot existence.


  1. I think that doing this is very smart, even though SOME may mock. Part of me wishes I had done this, since now when I look through my shoeboxes and shoeboxes (no albums here!) of photos and realize just how much I HAVE forgotten, it hurts. Perhaps, had I looked at them more often as you do, there wouldn't be this disconnect. But something in me is sort of afraid to live any differently, at the same time. :-) Love!

  2. mink, surrounding yourself with photos isn't "living differently" at all...for me, it's just inserting bonus moments of emotion and happiness in the nooks and crannies of my day. It doesn't cost anything to pass by a photo and enjoy a fond experience.