DORY'S DIARY: Gazing at old photos causes tears to flow

By Dorothy Swart Fleshman February 03, 2014 08:15 am

Today Monday, Feb. 3, is my oldest son’s 65th birthday.  Happy birthday, son!

A week ago I spent that Sunday afternoon looking at photos of when my three sons were small.

The tears slipped slowly down over my cheeks in remembering those days when I could also say “our” sons and their father lived.

It had been a day when I dined alone in a restaurant filled with families, so I was already primed for feeling lonesome, I guess.

Thinking to accomplish something in the way of emptying boxes of moving items, I got caught up in old scrapbooks and mementos left behind by my children when love and marriage called them away.

There was much work to be done in sorting and finding space to put their notebooks filled with the past. My success was only half-hearted, as I wanted to spend time in thinking about our sons’ ages, where we lived at the time, and, also, how the activities had altered our lives.

Back I went in memory until my heart could hold no more.

Times of giving birth, each time a treasure.  There were growing and developing days, pets to hold and release, activities in pleasure and pain, growth to measure on the basement post, ways to say “hello” and “goodbye.”

Now my sons are grown men going through the same regime of life that passes from generation to generation.

The old passes away, one by one, in tears of regret and the longing to hang onto what had been — or seemed to be.

While the parent sees things one way, I now wonder how it looked from their youthful position.

I study their sweet faces and their smiles catch at my longings for them.

Their pictures show them to be happy.  Were they?

We did lots of things together.  Were they enough?

Report cards show they did reasonably well and were most cooperative. Did we do enough to guide them along the way?

We thought we showed them love and concern. Did we tell them so that they would know for sure?

With the photos that I found, I identified each person, where it was taken, and some kind of a date so that in years to come there would be no mistaking one child for another. It’s amazing how quickly the family resemblance makes it difficult to be sure.

Other folks in the pictures need identified as well if they are to go into the scrapbook for younger folks to see quite some years later and wonder who all was on the family tree.

The evening sun slipped down behind the hill where so much of our lives had been lived, so I let the memories fade, slowly, achingly-so.

Never again would those days come my way.

My once small boys are now men with families, and their families are grown and beginning all over again with a new generation in the fold, another great-granddaughter born almost a month ago, little Jennifer Grace.

How quickly the time went by.  How lost I can feel for the time that can never come again, the home and life we all had together, and is now gone forever.

I dry my tears, put away the books of memory, and look forward to the new day that, hopefully, will come to these tired old eyes, even if it means facing another hard decision in a rather hard world.

I’ve been so fortunate to have known the past and still be part of the future.