Tuesday, August 10, 2010

smile for the camera

"You can't take a picture of this. It's already gone." -Six Feet Under

My camera broke. This is very upsetting because this is the third camera in about 4 years that I've rendered useless. Also, I don't like relying on other people to capture memories...

Which leads me to my recent mini-family reunion over the the past weekend. My grandparents planned a last minute trip from Florida and stayed at my aunt and uncle's. It was my aunt and uncle, cousins, mom, brother and sisters. For the first time in a long time (longer that I can remember), we were all together.

There were many pictures taken that weekend, but there was one that wasn't taken. That's the one I've thought about the most.

On Saturday night, we were all zonked out on baked ziti, beer, and wine. A bunch of us were sitting in the family room,our eyes glazed over as we watched TV. In came Grandma. "I want to take a family picture." Me, being me, said, "You pick the worst times to take pictures." I didn't mean to be callous, only slightly sarcastic. And it's not that I (and others) didn't want to be a picture, but I just didn't want to be in one then.

Grandma walked away. I knew instantly I was a bonehead. My aunt, mom and I went to get her and cheer her up. We crowded around her and gave her a big but she wanted nothing of it. My grandma, one of the most loving and caring person I know, was pissed. My mom went back into the family room but my aunt and I followed Grandma into the guest room.

Grandma started to cry, and I never see her cry. "I wanted a picture of all of us together. Who knows when we'll all be together again, with all our health issues and what not."

I was stunned. I didn't even see it that way. My grandpa's health has been declining, and my grandma had been showing signs of forgetfulness (more than usual). Yet, in taking time and life for granted, I assumed they would be around forever.

We said we'd take the picture. She refused then and she stubbornly refused to take the picture the next morning. The moment was already gone.

I wondered why she needed a picture to capture our family together. But I've been realizing that memories can be fleeting. Hell, I barely remember yesterday. It's the capturing of memories that keeps them safe. We took pictures all weekend, but I don't think I'll even forget the family picture we didn't take. I learned that we need something to help us remember. That there's something intangible about act of posing for the camera and smiling.

I should learn to take better care of my camera.


  1. Oh dear, about your camera and your grandma. Sometimes you need pictures to help you remember, but some things are always there, photo or not. I think as you get older you want something tangible to hold onto, some proof that the moment happened.

  2. Oh :( I do that kind of thing every now and then and it makes me feel like crap. I don't take enough photos. I have a friend who would never take photos when we were overseas because she wanted to live in the moment, rather than behind a camera. I kind of like that but now she has just has to rely on her memories to take her back to that crazy year away from home.

    Hope the day got better. x

  3. The day did get better, thanks!

    I like what you said about your friend and how she wanted to "live in the moment, rather than behind a camera." When did the two acts become so different? Doesn't the camera capture the moment? On the flip side to that, sometimes when I am taking pictures, I'm looking for photo ops specifically, rather than taking it all in.

    Thanks for your comment!

  4. Its a tough thing I work with all the time.... am I as "present" as I want to be when I'm trying to get a good picture? I try to balance it by not worrying too much about the quality of the photo and just capturing a moment and putting it away, and seeing the rest of the memory though my naked eyes. :) But its a tough one. I use the catch-22 to make myself feel better about it, whichever way I go. ;)

    I really connected with the thoughts of the picture you didn't take. There is one of those in my mind, where I was thinking there were all of these obsticles to take a photo I wanted to take, and it never happened, and I am very sad about it. I'm sorry your grandma was sad/mad and I hope it got better!