15 June 2015

Look At This Photograph...Every Time It Makes Me Laugh

The project I'm working on now is scanning photos from Kevin's mom's albums.

Kevin's mom likes looking at pictures, she always has but recently, she will spend a while just looking at photos.  It doesn't matter if it's actual pictures or ones on her tablet or someones phone, kind of like a child.

I did some research about folks with dementia and found that is a characteristic.  It's a self-soothing technique.  I thought about how to go about doing this for her.  Here are the struggles:

I've printed out photos before but they've gotten put away in the shuffle of life or she's put them somewhere and doesn't remember now.  She's not strong enough to hold a big photo album.  Sometimes she's good with her tablet and other times she isn't.  They live in a tiny house so hanging photos on the walls aren't an option.

So, I'm making photo albums on her facebook so that she can see them anytime on her tablet, they won't get misplaced or ruined and bonus: everyone else gets to see them as well.

I've done this in the past almost a year ago, her nieces asked for any photos she had of their late mother. So I made an album and tagged all the girls (4, including twins) so they could have photos of their mom.

Then one of cousins sent pictures so I created another album on Facebook for her of family history stuff.  I've been adding to that here and there.  This last visit to the hospital, I raided her closet where she keeps all her photos and albums.  I started scanning them into the laptop and posting them on Facebook. (thank god for the cloud...but my data plan is taking a beating)

Holy time travel, batman. There are photos from when Kevin's parents were teens and when she was a child.  There are baby-teen pictures of Kevin that I've never seen, or him for that matter. 

With this photo project, I'm hearing family stories (Oh, and an aunt passed away and we went to her funeral yesterday. Because, of course.)  A person needs charts, graphs, and a laser pointer to keep track of this family tree.

Kevin's mom has four sisters and a brother.  Kevin's dad has two brothers and three sisters.  Originally, one of the brothers married one of HER sisters.  They divorced and he eventually married not one, but two of his brother's ex-wives.  One of my father-in-law sister got pregnant as a late teen by a boy from a prominent family, married someone else, and was eventually widowed.  The other two sisters have long-term marriages.  All of them have at least two but up to four children.

Kevin's mom's sisters have been married multiple times.  Susie married Uncle Don TWICE, once in the fifties and once in the 90's. The one that married the brother was either married or in multiple relationships and died as an addict.  The other died of cancer after being divorced and was in love with my sister-in-law's widowed dad, and the youngest sister (who is the EXACT SAME AGE AS KEVIN'S BROTHER) has been married twice. To two guys names STEVE.  The brother is gay, but married TWICE, and his lifelong companion died of AIDS right when Kevin and I started dating.

I swear this is all true.
But, then I learned a little bit more about Kevin's parents.  I knew that he had a dalliance when Kevin was young.  I use the word dalliance because his mother insists that there was no sex. (eye-roll) What I didn't know was that they separated and that there was another, another woman who caused a second separation.
He was a long haul truck driver and this isn't unusual for drivers.  But I was shocked that there were two women and that they were actually separated.  She also said that he used to be hell on wheels (Drinking and mischief) but that was because of the friends he hung out with.  To which, Kevin and I have eye strain from the eye-rolling.  OH, and another thing: one of his best friends back-in-the-day was my ex-husbands uncle. 
So, I'm looking through a different filter when I'm looking  at some of the pictures of Kevin's parents. He was a total rascal. It was always said that it was his BROTHERS that were rascals. Ummm, no, it was him too.

You see what I'm saying?  LOLOMG.

So, anyway, back to the original topic.  Kevin's mom made memory books for the boys that included school portraits, class photos, report cards, and keepsakes like birthday cards and Valentines.  I've been able to add to Kevin's book quite a bit.  It's been really fun. (and more on this topic later)
Now Kevin's mom has stated that she wants to have the photos distributed amongst the sons and grandkids.("Otherwise, they will just sit in the closet until I die!")  This is my next step. I've already begun separating photos out for the boys but she means the photos that are in albums and not just the ones that are stored loosely are to be distributed. And what about the one million cousins?  That's a big project that I might just offer to store the albums instead of taking them apart.  Then I will work with her to make sure every one of them are labeled and stories are told.  Also, I'm hoping that tossing them up on the facebook will be sufficient for the one million cousins.
OH! And when I was posting the photos of Kevin's dads family on Facebook, I didn't know who was who.  I took a photo of the photo then messaged Kevin's aunt (who is my FAVORITE, ever) asking for details.  That was Super Fun!  She would say things like "That's my mom and my exboyfriend...NO" Or "That was Sonny's ex-wife, she never smiled" or "You can post that one, Marlene might not like it but that's okay."  (Marlene is a sister, and she's on Facebook, and she wasn't amused.)

I've found that I have to walk away or I easily get overwhelmed. There are so many photos! (Five large albums and on big cookie tin full of wonderfulness)  Also, we're having a bit of heat wave and my office bakes in the afternoon, even with a giant window.  But I've finished the memory books as much as I'm going to and I've dropped off some really old, black and white negatives to be developed.

So, word of advice: label photos with your parents now before the memories fade.  We're "lucky" that Kevin's mom's dementia has affected her short-term memory only.  She can talk all day long about what happened when everyone was young.  A benefit of labeling photos is that you get to hear stories.  As stated above, whooo boy, there are some stories to be heard in every family.

1 comment:

Swistle said...

"Also, get 8x10 prints so you'll have room to WRITE all the stories on the backs."