Karen Murdock, founder of Your Organized Friend is a member of the Westend Seniors Activity Centre’s, Friends of WSAC business program. Karen has been a guest speaker here at our centre since 2017, providing educational Toonie Talks on home organizing, downsizing, and this fall she will be hosting a Toonie Talk on creating a Photo Legacy .
This month’s we are happy to share Karen’s thoughts on “The Power of Family Photos”
Guest Blog Post:
Karen Murdock, Owner of Your Organized Friend
The Power of Family Photos
As a child, I would sit for hours, cuddled close to my mother, looking at family photos. While my two brothers weren’t as interested, I loved hearing my mother tell the stories behind the photos. The memories of that time with her are so precious to me; I only wish I had written the stories of the photos down.
One particular photo hung on the wall of every member of my Dad’s family; every aunt and uncle, and my own family as well, had a photo my Uncle Jimmy displayed with pride. That photo had a profound effect on my upbringing – it made it possible for me to get to know my uncle. You see, Uncle Jimmy died in World War II, before my brothers and I were even born. That photo led to many conversations when family gathered which meant I grew up knowing his story. Remembrance Day ceremonies were extra meaningful because of the pride I had in my uncle. I’ve noticed that the power of family photos to connect families only grows as we age. My brothers now share my love of the family photos and stories. They are, after all, a part of us.
When my father was in his 90s, and living in a nursing home, I brought a photo to one of our visits. It was a group shot of a bunch of young boys – it looked to be from the 1930s or 1940s – with some boys on bikes, and some standing or seated. I didn’t know who any of the boys were but as soon as I showed it to my dad, he pointed to one young boy in the front row and said “That’s me!”. Tears fell from my eyes – a photo that had held no meaning for me only moments before became a connection to my Dad’s childhood. Up to that point, the earliest photo I had of my dad was him at seventeen wearing his private’s uniform.
Dad shared the story behind the photo. A hotel and beer parlor were being built in his small town and every day, these kids would go see if they could get work. They were determined to try to bring a little extra money home to their families. That afternoon was made so much more special as I listened to Dad tell the story of the photo. It was one of our last afternoons together and a memory I’ll always treasure.
I’m now working on a photo book of my dad’s life to share with family. It contains photos of him through the years; some genealogy and history (including the names of the boats his parents came to Canada on); and – of course – his stories. My dad and I were very close – he even lived with me for about five years before entering assisted living. I heard him tell the same stories again and again. His face would light up as he shared some of the best moments of his life.
Give some thought to organizing your family photos and putting the stories together. There is huge value, not just in knowing your family history but in the bonds, it can form in the present. There is something special about sitting with the next generation, telling the stories of their family, and watching their faces light up with curiosity. Not only are you sharing their history, you’re making new memories – and that’s what it’s really all about.
Watch for Karen’s Toonie Talk presentation:
Bring a shoebox of loose photos with you and learn best practices about taking your printed photos from chaos, to collection, and ending up with a Photo Legacy
Date: Monday October 7th
Time: 1:30 p.m.