Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sepia Saturday: If only they could speak: Inspiration in Sepia


Each time I sit down at my desk to write about my family, or about Irish history, to contemplate the lives led by those who have gone before me, I see two small sepia images of my grandmothers. Years ago I affixed these two portraits to the wall above my desk. Grandmother Annie and Grandmother Mary look out at me from photos taken so very long ago, before either one was married, before they had stepped onto their ultimate path in life. Each time I look at them I feel as though they are bidding me to uncover family stories, to learn as much as I can about the path travelled by every member on my family tree. Both of my grandmothers died long before I was born, and so these small sepia images give me a connection across time to these women, whom I did not have the privilege of knowing in life.

A simple sepia image draws us back into the past, and inspires us in the present to look at that past and learn from it. Whether the photograph is of a small boy, an old man, a stern looking matriarch, or an ethereal looking young woman, each one represents a life that has been, and each image tells us something about that life.

Just imagine if each one of those pictured could call out to us through time and ask:

What it is that you see in my image?
Whose face do you see in mine? Your father or mother, your brother or a cousin?
Do you see your face in mine?
Do you have my eyes, my hair, my nose, my lips, or my ears?

Who do you believe I was in life?
What assumptions have you made about me?
On what parts of my life do you choose to focus?
What aspects of my life do you choose to ignore?

Do you truly know my history?
Do parts of my life story echo in your own story?
Is it difficult to see yourself in me?

Will you remember me?

If only such interactions were possible, with so many questions to be asked, and so many answers to be given. All of them are inspired by these faces of family in sepia. If only they could speak.

Pictured in the image above (left to right):
Top row: Margaret Toole Geraghty, Anne 'Annie' Magee Geraghty, Michael Magee, Patrick Geraghty, Enda Geraghty.
Middle row: Alice Fitzpatrick Ward, Patrick Ball, Thomas Fitzpatrick, Thomas Michael Kettle.
Bottom row: Maria 'Mary' Fitzpatrick Ball, Maria 'Mary' Hynes Fitzpatrick, Andrew Joseph Kettle.

Be sure to stop by Alan and Kat's blog Sepia Saturday to see how others are inspired by images in sepia.

Copyright©irisheyesjg2013.

20 comments:

  1. How fortunate that you have these family portraits! They are indeed a treasure as well as an inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jacqi,

      Thanks for your comments; they are always much appreciated. I do feel very fortunate to have the ones that I do. They are definitely a treasure!

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  2. I think I have a photo of one Grandmother who I did meet while young, remember her as a kindly old lady.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bill,

      Thanks for your comments. I always appreciate hearing from you. I'm sure that one photo is a treasure to you, and how nice that you remember your grandmother.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  3. Yes if only photos could speak!

    I have some photos that I "know" are family but who? The eyes keep "telling" me to look harder

    A great collection of photos. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sharon,

      Thanks very much for your comments. Yes, if only they could speak! I have spoken to my photos so many times, but they never answer back. I'm sure you're listening to those eyes on yours.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  4. I have no photos of my grandparents and just two of one of my wife's (which I've shown today. Loved your collection.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bob,

      Thanks very much for your comments. Sorry you don't have pictures of your grandparents. Some of my collection has come to me through alternative channels (distant cousins via the web, university archives, etc.), and I do feel very fortunate to have copies of them. Maybe some of yours are still out there waiting to be found.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  5. Oh, so very true. Old photographs always speak to me - and with such eloquence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alan,

      Thanks for your comments, and thanks again for the inspiration on Sepia Saturday. I am glad to know old photographs speak to you too.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  6. Oh yes, my ancestors, most of whom I never knew speak through the ages...a great series of thoughts you have to match the photos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Patrica,

      Thanks for your comments. It's nice to hear from you! I'm glad to know your ancestors speak to you too.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  7. Gorgeous collection of ancestor photographs, Jennifer! Beautiful people and images. How fortunate you are to have such treasures. Two immediate lines of mine have almost no photos at all - the 'keeper' of the photograph albums became demented and they were all destroyed. Sigh. Perhaps a cousin somewhere. I'm inspired to do more 'fishing' for cousins, looking at these lovely photos. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Celia,

      Thanks so much for your comments. I always appreciate hearing from you. I am so pleased to have copies of all of these images. I only have a couple of the originals. Most of them came to me from alternative sources such as distant relations and university archives, so I encourage you to do more 'cousin fishing'.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  8. I feel so fortunate to have known my grandmothers and spent a lot of time with them when I was young. They are my inspiration too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for your comments. I truly envy you. All of my grandparents died before I was born. My maternal grandmother died when my mom was only five years old, and my dad's mom died over a decade before I was born. When I was a child I used to wish I had grandparents, especially when I would see my friends with their grandparents. Still in all, although I did not know them, they are still my inspiration.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  9. That's the aim for many of us, to unlock the stories behind those photos of ancestors who we never knew.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Brett,

      Thanks very much for your comments. They are always much appreciated. Unlocking those stories is such a pleasure even though it is sometimes a daunting task to get to the stories behind those faces.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete

Comments on this blog are always deeply appreciated; however, in the spirit of true collegiality, I ask that you do not write something you would not say to me in person.

There is a proliferation of SPAM on this blog, so unfortunately comments moderation must be in operation for posts older than two days.

Any comments that are mean-spirited, include URLs which are not connected to the post topic, contain misinformation, or in any way resemble advertising, will be removed. Anonymous comments which do not bear the name of the person commenting within the body of the comment, or are clearly generated from fake Google or Blogger accounts, will also be deleted.

Cheers, Jennifer

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...