For those of us who are unable to get away for a break, the winter can seem unbearably long and confining. I have a dear older friend who is even afraid to take her car out to run necessary errands. She is the sole caregiver for her husband, who is wheelchair bound. If she slips on the ice, falls and injures herself, who will be there to care for and support him?
One thing that has brought some relief to her cocooned indoor life is the joy she has found in looking through old photo albums. In preparation for a personal memoir that is soon to be published, she is going through all her old photos to select those what will best represent various chapters in her long and fascinating life. It is a task that has helped her to remember long ago friends and places she lived or visited. For her, it has been great fun and brought back wonderful memories that she gets to re-live whenever she looks at the photographs.
Kelly Walker, who will be leading a workshop at Siloam United Church on April 6th, has some important things to say about winter:
“This season has a great deal to teach us about living and dying. We being to prepare for a slower time — a time when the weather takes us by the hand and leads us into the unknown. It is impossible for us to control the weather in the months ahead. Snow can keep us indoors for days on end. Ice can isolate us. Cold and wind can stall us in our tracks. We are not always in control.” (p. 177, Walker, Growing Somewhere)
Elsewhere Kelly writes that this is a good time for reflection, something we don’t often take the time to do when the weather is pleasant and our health is good. He talks about looking through old photo albums with his aunt and listening to her tell stories about the people in those albums, some of whom Kelly remembers fondly and others whom he only remembers vaguely from childhood and still others not at all.
Maybe like Kelly and my friend, it is time to get out the old photographs and and recall the precious memories embedded in them. If you have an older parent, or an aunt or uncle, who can tell you more about the stories behind those photos, take the time now to talk with them and write those stories down. And if you are now the elder, be sure and sit down with your child or grandchild, or your niece or nephew, and welcome them into the world that is their legacy. And if they cannot be with you in person, speak the stories into a tape recorder or commit them to print. You will be giving your loved ones a rich and valuable gift — the gift of memory. Moreover, you will be bringing some warmth and light into these cold winter days.