I sometimes wonder why I love my camera so much. I have so many pictures in my house I literally don’t know what to do with them all, and yet I keep snapping pictures.

One night, after about two years of marriage, my husband, David, and I were looking for some pictures of our wedding because a friend wanted to put together a wedding video for us. He asked me to send him some pictures to spice it up.

I went through hundreds of pictures (and negatives!) stacked in a trunk, looking for the right shots to send to him. It was a long process, taking most of the night. What I originally dreaded as a chore turned out to be a lot of fun!

When I saw moments of my wedding day captured on paper, suddenly I was there again. I could smell the cool September breeze. I remembered how the sun felt warm on my bundled hair, and the softness of the veil hanging down around my ears. I reminisced the tender thoughts I had about David—how happy I was to marry him. I remembered wondering what he was thinking as I looked into those bright blue eyes, not able to imagine that I would be waking up to that face the next morning. It was like living the day all over again.

In the process of digging through mounds of photos, I also found images of my family, even ones that were taken years before I was born. Previously, my aunt sent me a manila envelope full of images of family history. In the stack were pictures of great, great, great grandmothers. There were pictures of my dad when he was a little baby, and then as a teenager, and then in his army uniform on the day he left for Germany. 

My family photos were like a mini-history lessons for David. For the first time, he saw my relatives in the plains of Oklahoma, and their hard faces from working the land. The bed in our guest room at that time was passed down to me, the fourth generation, from my great, great aunt. That bed had once seemed decrepit to David, but after seeing the photos, it was valued and appreciated.

As we looked through the faces of grandmothers, aunts, and baby pictures of parents, we talked about the resemblances we saw in me, even from my great grandmother, and how those resemblances will possibly pass down to our children.

Then I remembered why I love my camera—for the legacy, that’s why. And even though the pictures are scattered and misplaced and take up so much room, it really isn’t important that they are so very organized. It’s just important that we have them there to remind us about life—lives that were lived before us, and a life that we have lived and will live together. 

Now that I’m older, I can show those pictures to our children. David has passed away, and those wedding photos are a part of my children’s legacy. The only way my children can learn about their biological father is through pictures and short video clips.  

One day I will be able to pass these pictures on to our children, and then they will pass them down to theirs. And so the legacy will continue to be written, a visual message to inspire and shape generations to come.

When I was a little girl, my parents used to get out pictures and home videos on a regular basis. I loved hearing the stories of how my parents met and fell in love. Seeing that they were together long before I was born made me feel secure, and hearing them tell stories of their life together showed that the bond they had when they fell in love still existed, even to that very day.

How long has it been since you got out the old family albums and looked at them? What about your wedding album? Do you have it tucked away, hidden in a box, hiding your legacy? Or it is accessible, so you can look through it now and again to remind you what it felt like when you first loved your spouse? 

Take these photos out and show them to your kids. Show them pictures of you when you were dating or when you were children. Show them pictures of their grandparents when they were in the prime of their lives. Slow down and take the time to reflect on the memories of the pictures. Talk about the smells, the thoughts, and the people that were there. If you’ve never done this, it will prove to be a bonding experience for your family and a fun way to laugh and grow together.

In this busy life, it may seem like a lot of work to get the family together and look at old photos, but don’t get discouraged. Sit down together and let your mind wander in the memories of your heart. It will take an entire night’s work, but once you begin, you’ll discover that it’s worth it.

Copyright © 2020 by Sabrina McDonald.