… digging up old family photos

Sonya Francis

Don’t go another day without digging up old family photos.
We all know every family has skeletons, personalities sometimes don’t mix well and even the perfect ones really aren’t so perfect after all.
My family is a freaking mess, but honestly, I couldn’t be more proud of it. It took me a while to love even their worst qualities, but sure enough, I do now. We have all been broken and shakily put back together. One thing is certain about my now small Italian family — we are passionate about everything, and without a doubt, we are most passionate about our  family.
I’ve never been too shy to coware away from the family surprises; however, this time I didn’t expect to uncover what I found.
A picture is worth a thousand words and telling a story with one is no tough task, right? Maybe conveying that story in photograph isn’t ridiculously difficult, but compiling text, several photos and other materials all into one image certainly is — at least for me. So when art and photography teacher Chris Flinchpaw announced our latest assignment, I was slightly worried. We were to use photoshop to weave photos and text to make a narrative. 
Yet, I surrendered and pulled out boxes among boxes of old pictures and old albums, trucked them over to my monthly newspaper late nights and dug in.
The first box I opened was photos thrown in every way possible, automatically making the situation more endearing. The photos weren’t organized, and they weren’t meant to be looked through any certain way; they were mine for the exploring.
I immediately pulled out a photo of my parents when they first got their apartment. The corners were edged, and the color was orange-yellow looking. They were both sitting on the floor surrounded by other options of furniture, staring at each other, young, in love and just married. Even when I was younger, I never thought of my parents as soul mates, and if you didn’t know them, after looking at this particular photo you would never consider that they were anything but soul mates to one another. Before the ways of the world got in the middle, they were truly in love, and even if I never saw that story with my own eyes, I will forever have this photo to know that it was once true. And for me that’s just enough.
After the moment passed, I leaned over to the next stack of photos and for another fifteen or so minutes I would laugh awkwardly, look over to my dearest friend junior Maria Kalaitzandonakes and say, “Oh my god, look at this face!” She had no clue who the face belonged to, where or when the photo was taken. But, like the great friend she is, she laughed, yelled the same thing right back to me, and when the moment was gone, she went back to work but would then continue to do it all again. 
My set time frame of being sappy and emotional was about up. It was time to get back to pushing pages for newspaper, running through edits and wanting to pull my hair out because of the unavoidable stress of late nights. Yet, I was still feeling my emotional high from all of the memories that I had forgotten to remember and the stories I recreated.
There were pictures of me in my brother’s high school hockey team gear, my princess costumes and smiling from ear to ear on birthdays. The common denominator between me and my huge smile was the fact that my brother was right next to me in each of them. He never left my side then, still hasn’t and I have a funny feeling that he won’t later on either.
Everyone can go through a tough time with their families. But one of the greatest feelings is revisiting the best of times, smiling at them and crying at the same time. I promise, if you go back and look at the best memories you have, they will remind you that you have many more fantastic memories to come.
Don’t go another day without digging up old family photos.
By Sonya Francis