by Carolynn J. Scully

I find great value in being able to share our family histories with my children and grandchildren, and photos are a great way to do that.

Before digital photographs, people stored their paper photos in albums or boxes. Recently, I decided to organize my photos. Over this past year I have gone through four of my dozen photo boxes trying to label, sort, and scan them onto thumb drives to be kept for future generations. It may take me a few more years to get through them, but I am determined because those memories are vitally important.

Most grandparents nowadays have settled into that in-between space of the paper and digital. This position offers us a unique viewpoint. We have been through various trends and have been the collectors of growth and change.

Photographs are doorways to memories that invite stories to be told and connections between generations to be made.

When showing pictures to my grandchildren, I’m delighted when they look carefully and ask if that is a picture of them. I laugh as I tell them, “No, that’s my mother when she was a baby,” or, “That’s me when I was a little girl.” The grands can come to see themselves as part of a larger family and become curious about the tall thin man who was my grandpa that I never met: their great-great grandpa.

They make more connections when I tell stories of talents passed down through generations, such as music, writing poetry, or mechanical and woodworking abilities. The big picture is that each of us is woven into many lives.

Grandparents can become the photo collector of history and the focused spectator that sees the big picture.

Spending time sharing the pictures and stories can be memorable and can become teaching opportunities. Come, let’s read our photographs together, and let history come alive for the next generation!

Carolynn J. Scully is an award-winning poet and writes other works while caring for grandchildren, Abigail and Lincoln, after school. She has worked in women’s ministries for many years and enjoys speaking to women’s groups. She has been married to her husband, Patrick, for 47 years and lives in Forest City, Florida. Her book, Something Good Inside of Me: A Children’s Poetry Keepsake Journal, was written for her seven grandchildren and is available here.