6.03.2013

the beauty of our histories

When we look at pictures of our grandparents when they were young, we always think they were beautiful.

It doesn't matter how they might actually and objectively compare to today's standards...whether they had teensy waists or perfectly white, straight teeth. They are always beautiful.

Maybe it's the glamour of the era, the black-and-white photos. But I don't think so. I think it's youth, and history. When we see those photos, we see lifetimes, legends, and a past that connects to us. We see pieces of ourselves that we want to love.

grandparents

When I glam up for a night on the town, lining my eyes and pinking my lips, I can look in the mirror and say, "I feel pretty." But I've learned that it can also be an amazing experience to wash it all away at the end of the night.

When I see that face, when I see the real shape of my eyes and pallor of my skin, I see something far deeper than beauty. I see my siblings and parents and grandparents. I see Slovakia and Ireland and even a hint of the great plains of the US. I see children and grandchildren, and pictures that will come to look like history.

grandparents

Hopefully someday, my grandchildren will have taken these old digital photos of me and transferred them into some as yet unimagined form. They will sit with me and say, "Grandma, you were so beautiful." And oh, I hope so much, that I will have found the words to help them realize that they are beautiful. That their youth, their history, their humanity shines from their faces...and that is enough.

15 comments:

  1. Clair, this post made me tear up! I have spent a lot of time going through old family photos recently, and they are so inspiring. Seeing a piece of your family history and feeling that sense of connection and love is such a blessing. One of my favorite possessions is a triptych with a photo of me, my mom, and my grandmother as toddlers/little girls all pushing the same blue and red buggy. We have the same flyaway hairs, the same face shape, and a shared history that I'm thankful for every day.

    xo Alicia

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    1. So glad to hear this touched you! That triptych sounds like something special.

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  2. My family is from Ireland and Slovakia, too! Such great history. These photos are so lovely and I truly agree, the snaps I have of my grandparents are so treasured and beautiful. I'm proud of the story that my face tells and the link it has to the women and men who have come before me.

    lovely, lovely post.


    <3 eileen
    www.leanerbythelake.com

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    1. Yes, I think you knew about hrutka?! So funny to find someone with a similar history. =)

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  3. Beautiful, Clair! I always feel this way when looking back at old family photos...I wonder if my parents realized how vital and happy they looked, and then it makes me look at myself through that lens.

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  4. Aw, I love this! I treasure my grandparents' old photos, and they were truly beautiful in their younger years (well, I think they also were beautiful as they aged- if I inherit my grandmother's youthful smooth skin, I'll be happy). There really is something glamorous about old photographs- perhaps it's the specialness of photographs at a time when, for the preservation of film, you only had one or two takes to get a shot right.

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    1. Yes, that's another thing to consider! Now we can make duck faces all night long...

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  5. A few things that always sticks out to me is 1) how everyone had flawless skin and 2) how everyone looks so youthfull...easier products or less chemicals, what they ate - I don't know how they accomplished it but I think it really reflects a different time. You can almost line up B&W photos of people in different generations, taken in the same outfit, same backdrop, same everything - and just by they way their face/posture/etc looks I bet you could could arrange them on a timeline.

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    1. So true...I imagine it's probably a lot of what you mentioned. And maybe also a little of the film quality?

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  6. What a beautiful post, Clair. I also treasure the photos I have of my grandparents, especially since only one of them (my dad's mom) is still living. As Alicia said, there's something so special about that sense of connection to the past.

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  7. I thoroughly enjoyed your post. I often think that the photos we have today have lost some of the romance and innocence of those of our grandparents. I love the softness of the light, and the stories you can read in their eyes.

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  8. THIS is beautiful! Makes me think of the graduation photo of my grandmother I snagged from my great aunt's house years ago; it's a favorite. Thank you!

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  9. Your grandparents are beautiful c:

    I really like old pictures of my relatives too, luckily most of my family members have loved photographing and there are SUITCASES (in plural) with photo albums at grandparents little summer house. I especially like to look at pictures of my great-great-great grandparents and ancestors from other countries, I feel weirdly connected with them.

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    1. Thank you! I'm biased, but I do think my grandpa up there is exceptionally good looking. ;-)

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Thanks for making me smile. =)