My mom gave me all of our family photos a couple of years ago for cataloguing and safekeeping. I was looking through them recently and found this one. That’s me, standing in on a carpet remnant so that I didn’t sink into all that fresh white snow. It’s 1973, perhaps the 9th or 10th of February, in Greenville, Alabama.
Exactly 40 years ago this weekend there was a history-making snowstorm. It’s my earliest memory and one of my last memories of living in Alabama before my family moved to Seattle, Washington later that same year. And what a journey it has been, from then until now.
I think about that piece of carpet sometimes, believe it or not. Keeping my feet dry on top of the snow. My little island. It’s a big part of that memory. The snow doesn’t appear to be that deep, but it was in some places. As a small 3-year-old, some of the drifts would have been almost up to my knees. It was the first time I’d seen snow. We lived in a mobile home just in front of where I’m standing, and the “home-house” as we call it (my beloved grandmother’s house) was about 30 yards away.
And before you draw any false conclusions, I choose to believe my brother is not aiming at me, but rather at my father who is out of the frame. I love that both my brother and I have orange pants. Typical, of course for the 1970s attire. It’s now one of my two favorite colors.
Contrast the above photo of me with this picture from last year of my daughter at 2 1/2 years old with a nice winter coat similar to the one I had on 40 years ago. Both coats purchased by the same person: my mom. She still has very good taste!
I’m honored that my mom has entrusted me with all of the family photos. With great power comes great responsibility, right?
With that in mind, this is the first of what I hope will become a series of images of me and my daughter at the same age (approximately 40 years apart). I also have a few images of my mom when she was growing up in Alabama and I hope to include three generations in some of the posts I’ll share in the future. I’m sure for some of the compositions I will have to play “guess the age,” but this will be so much fun.
I often think what my life would have been had my family remained in Alabama. Not better or worse, but more about my sense of identity, connectedness to my family and community, my heritage and my home state. My purpose and passion.
I feel my parents gave me a big gift when they made the decision to move to the Northwest all those years ago. It’s time that I open it again and take a good hard look at this gift. Perhaps it will help me to figure out what gifts I’m going to pass on to my own daughter. Starting with a figurative rug remnant to keep her feet dry and on solid ground.