Album.

21 05 2008

I thought I was being a dutiful and loving daughter by helping my mother set up her first blog. But now it appears she’s gotten it into her mind that her goal is to use the blog not just as a coping mechanism for her illness, but as a platform for sharing my baby pictures as well.

I have never known another person on the planet (besides, perhaps, the head librarian at the Library of Congress) who maintains a larger collection of photos than my mother. As a child, I remember staring at the rows and stacks of colorful photo albums that lined the bookshelves in our living room. Each was labeled with a number, and the earlier albums even had a table of contents on the inside cover. After I was born, however, that stopped because the albums thickened with photos and spoke for themselves. My mother documented every minute of my life and stored them neatly away in an album. Some of my clearest memories are of her sitting in that living room with photos spread across the table and an album open to a fresh shiny page. She would begin by placing the photos on top of the page to get their proper positioning (and proper sequencing) and then slowly, painfully slowly, she would lift the clear film, the plastic softly removing from the sticky paper, and mount the photos carefully onto the page, replacing the clear film over the photos and pressing down to stick the plastic to the page. This was the age before digital photography, when the lifting of a photo and pressing onto a page seemed to carry more weight, more memory, more thought than the simple clicking and zooming of our cameras these days. In my mother’s simple action of placing a photo onto a page, she was retelling our family’s story.

Through fifty or sixty albums she did this same thing, viewing, sorting, pasting, placing. Through fifity or sixty albums she went through with her hands and told our story. And then, with as much care as she took to build the story with photos, she told our family’s story again and again to anyone who would listen. On all of our family vacations, she carted stacks of albums around (the most recent 3 or 4) and showed them to anyone: people who had opened their homes to us for the weekend, complete strangers on the beach, hotel employees. (You can deny this last one, Mother, but even though I don’t have concrete evidence that you did this, it’s exceedingly likely you did.)

And so today, when I saw my little self up on my mother’s blog, waving to her as she clicked the shutter of her old camera shut, I thought about how that blog was like the ultimate chance for her to tell our story. You are the ultimate audience for her because she can talk and not be interrupted. She can choose whatever pictures she wants (except for the naked ones, Mother! You know this already!!) and write to her heart’s desire about them.

And the way I see it, that’s pretty good therapy.

Gina and the Pumpkins


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8 responses

21 05 2008
annefisler

You know, I usually deny at least some part of my daughter’s stories about me, but in this particular case, she’s got me pegged 100% (yes, I even agree with you about the hotel employees…). And here’s a story which sort of “showcases” how much importance I ascribe to Gina, friends, and pictures (naturally, my family would be in that list, too – but on this occasion, none of you were travelling with me).
It was the summer of 1981 (no, this is NOT the beginning of a poem or a novel), and I had planned to fly out to visit my good friend, Diane (the artist, who now lives back in Vermont) and bring my sweet Baby Gina with me. At that time Diane lived in Cape Girardeau, Mo., a city with just a small airport at the time – and my starting airport (Burlington, Vt.) wasn’t any bigger. My itinerary included 4 separate plane connections – no easy task, even when travelling on your own. To complicate matters, it was the summer of the famous airline strike, which meant that no connection was guaranteed – you had to get off one flight and just pray your next flight was still a “go”. Plus, it was a really hot and humid day, even for all those midwest states that we’d be flying in and out of. AND, (as if there need be another “and”), just the week before, Gina had successfully completed being toilet-trained – quite an accomplishment, and one that I did not want to undo with too much of a challenge. (Oh boy, am I ever going to hear about this one!! But there’s no nudity, so technically I’m ok…) Things worked out absolutely fine on all accounts during the whole trip, although I was really concerned during the 4th and final flight, because it was a VERY small plane, seating about 12 people, with no bathroom!! But no problems at all – we were met by Diane right on schedule, along with a WALL of heat and humidity which was so bad that I didn’t even know what hit me! So now, I’ve talked about Gina and one friend, but there’s more… (I guess I should have written this as a post on my own blog, but now I’m too tired (read: lazy) – maybe my blog administrator can somehow do that for me 🙂 ) Anyway, knowing that my friend, Lynne, (the one I hooked the Bear rug for) was in Chicago and could possibly get off work to drive to the airport and see me and Baby Gina, we made arrangements to meet at O’Hare. I was so looking forward to seeing her for that short time, and I had all my stuff really organized so we could make the best use of that time. First, all you parents can visualize what I would have taken just for Baby Gina (luckily, it was a lot less in those days than what parents tote around now). I had a stoller (which I never used except in airports, but was terrific then), which was draped with not only the baby bag filled to capacity, but also another giant bag filled with … ???… you guessed it! 3 or 4 of my most recent picture albums so I could show both Lynne and Diane (and anyone else I could possibly show it to, I know, Gina…). Plus my heavy purse, and then of course my sweet daughter. Now I think you’re getting the picture of what it was like travelling that whole day. A trip to the bathroom (and there were many) was as challenging as climbing Mt. Everest!
(But back to Chicago, where my friend (who is NEVER late) is not showing up..)
Turns out she was zooming (and I do mean zooming) to the airport, all dressed up in some fancy polyester outfit (the style of the times), and her car just quit – and there was nothing she could do about it in time to get to the airport, and no way to let me know – I can see the sweat dripping down her whole body as she was sweltering in the heat, and feel her utter frustration of not getting to see us and not making a committment. I knew as I was sitting on that airport bench that something had gone wrong, because I know how my friends and I are – if we say something, we do it. No question. So when Baby Gina and I were all settled in at Diane’s I called and got the whole story from Lynne – I just wish I could have had a picture of it for me album! 🙂

21 05 2008
lynnecheslin

Reading your recent blog about your Mom’s gigantic photo book collection brought such a wonderful smile to my face, as I have been a first-hand witness to the “production” she puts forth(as she does with everything she so loves and treasures in her world). I.E. Christmas tree ornament placement.Need I say more? Do want to say I adore the picture of you in your own pumpkin patch…….

21 05 2008
luanaspider

ms.c
your mother has now total control over you.hahaha
she can put up there any photo she likes!!!! And ms.c, you were cute and I thought you grew a bit comparing the picture to now.ha You know I’m kidding, but it would be just really fun to see more pictures of you up there!

21 05 2008
ginacoggio

Oh, Luana. She’s always had total control over me, whether I wanted to admit it or not.

And I’m sure my mother is just laughing and cackling away with glee now that she’s read that you want to see more pictures of me as a baby. She told me the other night, “Your kids would LOVE to see those pictures of you!” And try as I might to deny it, you both have proven me wrong.

Again.

21 05 2008
annefisler

hee hee hee……… cackle, cackle, cackle……

21 05 2008
Catherine

Very cute picture, Gina!

27 05 2008
Susan

I love your mom.

27 05 2008
ginacoggio

Me too!

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