Coloring the Past


Don’t we think of our past in color? Some of us have better memories than others though. My son remembers so many details that I’ve forgotten about when he was growing up. Then when he brings up an incident. I go “Oh yes, now I remember!” Photographs always help the memory.

When people of my generation were growing up we were fortunate to have those little box cameras, or maybe a Polaroid that shot out square pieces of cardboard that magically turned into pictures in a few minutes. The colors never looked realistic, though. But at least we had something to look at that “sort of” resembled reality. I wish I still had more of those photos.

I think our memories “sort of” resemble reality, too. We all color what we remember with our feelings, fears, desires, wishes, and the faces of people we loved or didn’t. The past is just that…the past. We can’t change it no matter how much we may want to. Everyone has done things they aren’t proud of, or would like to change. Many people have been treated unkindly or worse. There are also many memories that are like smiles to think about. Playing kickball in the street until dusk (it was safe then), secrets with girlfriends, working on a school project with my dad, board games, backyard badminton with my sister, catching my parents bringing in my new bike for Christmas when they thought I was asleep (what, they are Santa?), my mother having way too loud Bridge parties downstairs, competing on the swimming team, going to the beach for summer vacation, high school football games, college exams and dorm living (never co-ed back when I went there), jobs, marriage, children. So many more.

In any case, our memories are colored by our present. I have changed, learned, mellowed, forgiven. What used to pain me no longer does, or doesn’t have a hold on me. Understanding myself and who I am in relation to the One who made me helps me to understand others. I am so grateful for sweet memories of good times and family and friends. I think I will color them with as many colors as I can picture.

  • Normally I prefer color photos, but I like to play with black and white sometimes. I took the color photo in a bread and breakfast Jerry and I stayed at in Glasgow, Kentucky. It was a fascinating old place with rich history and squeaky floors. Apparently Abraham Lincoln’s lawyer stayed there once. A person was murdered with a hammer in one of the bedrooms (not the one we slept in.) My husband still insists that an invisible someone was following him when he got up in the middle of the night. And the hotel was decorated with wonderful period furniture and articles, and this was a little collection on the bureau in our room. I made it into black and white, but it seems a little harsh to me, so I did it in Ambrotype (not sure what that is, but I like it.)

I’d love to know which you prefer, color, b/w, or Ambrotype.