My mom has chronicled every moment in our lives since the day we were all born. Hefty photo albums line an entire book case in the front livingroom of their house. If candles weren’t blown out at the right moment, they were re-lit because Mom wasn’t ready with her camera.
When S.M. and I drove down to see them the other day, I saw that Dad had built another book case in the livingroom. The first row was left empty with one new photo album leaning against the wood.
“Grandkids.” She said. “I ran out of room.” Mom pointed at the very full book case.
It was my niece’s birthday. Jenny brought out the cake with six candles blazing. She knelt down in front of her daughter while Mom fumbled with the digital camera.
“Wait.” Mom said.
I watched as the wax began dripping towards the cake and the flame lowered and flickered. My niece’s eyes were wide, too. She was impatient. Dad whispered to my niece to blow them out anyway which earned him an angry glance from Mom who finally got the camera working.
My niece blew out the candles and suffered through five more minutes of poses for Mom. All the women in the household went into the kitchen to help serve while the men sat in the livingroom talking about whatever men talk about.
While my niece took every candle and licked the frosting and crumbs off of the bottoms, I scooped vanilla ice cream while Mom sliced the cake and put them on paper plates. I kept thinking of how many trips I more often than not refrain from photography.
It probably has something to do with all those photo albums. They tug us to the past, remind us of our failures and successes. Mostly, it has everything to do with my own memories of Mom forever behind the lens of the camera. I want to enjoy the moments I have in this life.
So sometimes I won’t take photos or videos.
I’ll just sit in the moment like now, scooping vanilla ice cream onto paper plates, and see my sister’s face light up in joy as we talk about how fast her daughter is growing. Besides, Jenny will have a couple of dozen photos on Facebook by tonight. The moment was already chronicled anyway.