This morning I placed the pictures of mom that I scrapbooked into an album whose cover I created some years ago, That was enjoyable, fun even. Most of these pictures help me remember her as a vital, engaged, and often happy person. While I’m sure my mom struggled with some level of depression, my entire life, usually the camera comes out in moments when people are having a good time.
After finishing with the album, I sat down on my study floor and pulled the next album off the shelf (not every album made into a box before the remodel started). It was an album I’d put together right when mom went into care. Something to help her remember, and ground her. Before I had a chance to take it to her, it became abundantly clear this was not a good idea. Anything that reminded her of the Island, reminded her she wanted to go home. Her doctor told her she could! Not.
I pulled all photos of my half-sisters and their families as I went through the album. My initial intention was to send the pics to their mom. Those pics are in the trash now. Those folks have all of those pictures. They’re the ones who sent them to my parents. The next cut was people and places I don’t know. Then out-of-focus pictures of my cousin in the south. She doesn’t need blurry 20+ year-old pictures. At the end of my wander through this 5+ year-old album I saved a batch of pics sent to mom by her college roommate (who also has dementia), and will return them to her son. I will also return some pictures to our childhood friend of her and her husband when they took their son to Europe a couple of decades ago.
In thinking of what to do with this album, my first idea (after picture removal) was to keep it as it is: A moment in time, a history of what early 2017 was like, what I thought was important for my mother. Second though is that this album will feed other albums. I put this batch of photos together in a hurry, a light panic even, hoping to sooth mom. It never would have, so why keep that history?
I didn’t expect or anticipate that my morning would include so many pictures and the choices I made around them. It surprised me. I am now resigned to the fact that I’ll probably be shuffling photos for decades.