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Photos in Frames and Preserving Memories


Mom holding a framed photo of Dad during WWII


Published in ChicagoNow, April 29, 2015


When my mother died on April 19, we had no problem finding photos to display at her funeral. She had framed pictures all over her apartment – pictures of her parents and parents-in-law, photos of her with my late father dating back to their courtship, numerous family portraits of her rapidly expanding family, wedding photos of her grandchildren, and photos of her nine great grandchildren.

I inherited her obsession with family photos. They fill the top of my piano and the hallway going up my stairs. They decorate the shelves in almost every room and clutter my kitchen refrigerator. Even though I have my favorites on my iPhone and I have exchanged my photo albums for photo books, there is nothing like a framed photo of someone I love smiling back at me every day.


Recent framed photo of my mother


Our last family portrait was taken on August 21, 2013 at my mother’s 90th birthday celebration. All of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren came. And yet, we are missing two great grandchildren born after the picture was taken. Next time we take a picture like this, we will be missing Mom.


My children have taken far more photos of their children than I ever took of them, but very few of them are printed and framed. Most of them live in their phones. Unfortunately for my poor computer, most of mine taken since 2003 live in iPhoto. At the time I blogged about my daughter’s dilemma of what to do with the 1,500 photos of her kids clogging up her phone, I had 32,729 pictures in iPhoto on my iMac. There were probably 300 of my husband and me on various vacations, and 429 of our kids’ weddings. So that left only 32,000 pictures of my grandkids.


By May of 2014 when I wrote about this issue again, I was up to 33,899 pictures on my Mac. Now I have a new iMac (the old one ran out of memory, partly due to all of these photos) and 37,752 pictures. I know, that’s a bit insane. But when Mom died, I found picture after picture of her. Looking at these brought back many happy memories.


So, I framed some more pictures of Mom that reminded me of her loving nature, her welcoming smile, her joy at family celebrations, her inclusiveness, and her warmth. As her great granddaughter said, “If she was in a Harry Potter house, she’d be a Hufflepuff, loyal and kind.” Her essence is reflected in these photos. I am so glad I have them now.


As I look at these photos, I hear the Simon and Garfunkel refrain from Old Friends/Bookends:

A time it was
It was a time
A time of innocence
A time of confidences
Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you.

Your iPhone can die. Your computer can crash. Hopefully, your precious photos are floating around somewhere on the Cloud. But there’s nothing like printed photos in frames to remember the most important people in your life. As I mourn my mother’s death, these photos in frames bring me great comfort.




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by Laurie Levy
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