by Jayme H. Mansfield
I couldn’t sleep the other night. Peaceful slumber evaded me as images of people, places, and past events fluttered and spiraled in my mind. Throughout the day, I tackled the monumental job of sorting through hundreds of family photos that made their way to my home in boxes, frames, and albums, that for many years, were under the watch of my now elderly mother.
Admitting the pile had collected a sufficient amount of dust since Nana came to live with us a year ago, it was time to prune and salvage the remnants of the family tree. Besides, family history has always held a special place in my heart—but now it was time to face the reality that one can only house so many packed storage tubs with items from the past.
As I tossed and turned in bed, replaying in my mind both familiar and unfamiliar faces, I realized photographs are quite peculiar—visuals of people and places captured in time—proof of an event, a place, a person’s existence. Static. Unmoving. Date and time-stamped. Some vibrant in color. Others faded to soft tones of black and white. Yet, memories, associations, and emotions bubbled and surfaced from the flimsy piece of light-sensitive paper. Fluid. Moving. Pulsing. Erupting. Retracting to past times, retreating to often forgotten places, and reuniting with friends and family at every life stage along the way.
Of course, Memory Lane is lovely at many junctures—a fascinating stroll through ancestral lineage, revisiting ranches and rural towns from which both sides of my family came, and watching the passage of time have its way as kids became adults, dark hair turned to gray, and fashions that we once thought “in,” quickly went “out.”
However, the stroll is taxing as well—sprinkled with sorrow and loss from reminders of those who are gone, children growing up too quickly, friends and family dispersing, and times changing . . . stepping away from more simple times. Even the homes, jobs, hobbies, pets—all in constant ebb and flow—part of life and then slipping away.
Was the journey through family photographs worth the mere forty winks? Yes. Because if the literal definition of photography is considered (drawing with light), the myriad of images exposed what it means to be part of family and community—illuminating history, memories, and the emotions of being fully alive and part of God’s creation.
Loosening the reins and leaning into a creative life—that’s Jayme’s sweet spot as an author, artist, and educator. The transformative power of art and faith are common threads in her award-winning historical novels, Chasing the Butterfly and RUSH. Her latest release, Seasoned ~ A Love Story, delivers the same. Jayme lives at the base of the Colorado Rocky Mountains where she and her husband have survived raising three hungry, hockey-playing sons. Currently, two very needy Golden Retrievers run the roost. Visit her at www.jaymehmansfield.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JaymeHMansfieldAuthor/, or on Instagram @JaymeMansfield.