Bye, Bye, Baby

After an extremely busy holiday season which included four family birthdays and one anniversary, we are finally back to our project of material cleansing, meaning that we continue to take down, put away, or give away anything that does not serve its purpose anymore. We finished our laundry room and are extremely satisfied with the light and bright new look. Previously we had 5 upholstered picture boards where we had attached individual and random pictures of the whole family at various outings and events and non events. They were fun to look at in the beginning, but after a while it just looked like clutter. So down they came.

Yesterday we took down all the kids pictures that we had in our guest bedroom hallway. Most of them were incased in large, beautiful dark frames. These pictures were taken when our children were babies and children and teenagers. There was also representation of their high school and college graduations which happened a long time ago. When pondering what to do about these photos, we remembered that our children, the subjects of these pictures, do not display these in their own adult homes. We also noticed, when we visited our children’s homes, that they most generally do not display family pictures, and of those who do, they are certainly not of the size and number that our collection of pictures are. As we took down these very large dark framed photos, our guest hallway visually grew wider and taller and certainly much brighter. Yes! We both liked the new look very much! It doesn’t seem to make much sense to have such a huge representation of times gone by hugging the walls of our interior. We have all these same photos at our disposal in a much smaller form in our photo albums.

As I stood in our Master bedroom, I was looking for a space to hang our daughters bridal pictures. They are so beautiful, have light ornate frames, and I am not quite ready to wrap them up and put them away. The only available space to hang them is a wall where a framed photo collection of some of my own baby pictures are displayed. I hung it here because of a memory my Mother shared with me. She told me that back when I was the photographed baby, they had spent all they could afford on the pictures themselves. My Mother was thrilled to have a daughter after giving birth to two sons. She also did not have a sister, so I was highly celebrated when I was born. She told me that my paternal Grandmother generously had these three pictures put into a frame and she delivered it to my extremely surprised and thankful Mother. This happened well over a half century ago.

With a feeling of sadness I took down my long ago framed baby pictures and hung my daughters wedding picture in its place. Now what? What do I do with these baby pictures? The frame was purchased by a grandmother who was not any more flush with money than my parents, so these pictures must have been important to all of them. Now, for me to toss the frame and put the pictures in a box seemed ungrateful. It also meant that my baby self would be destined for obscurity. I am the last person on earth who knows the story behind this framed baby picture and the last one to even care about it because I am the last one in my immediate family to remember the women involved who created this lovely framed collection. This act of “taking down” underscores the fact that my grown up, “grown old” self is also destined for obscurity. My earthly ego finds it incomprehensible that I, me, and myself will recede into nothingness in the minds of even my own descendant. No longer will my baby picture be an object of love and gratitude, rather it will be an object of curiosity to people who won’t know me. Even if I write my name and date on the back of these pictures, at some point in time, this is exactly who I will become…just a name and date to some future family member.

Somehow, I make peace with this inevitability. Everyone eventually has to accept the fact of their inevitable demise. All I can really hope for is that our teachings about morality, encouragement in developing good character and understanding the importance of kindness and love to our children will have taken root, because this is the only real way “we” will live on in this life. I often observe all of our children and how they conduct their lives and I feel proud and grateful that the seeds planted so long ago have taken root and the result is a group of middle aged adults who are each contributing in a very kind, very positive and very caring way to the people of this world.

I take a deep breath and take down the baby and put up the bride. Both sets of pictures give me pleasure and both brighten our room. That was then and this is now, so bye, bye, baby, good-bye!


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