PLYMOUTH — Everybody has pictures of their family — pictures of people, places, events through the years.
Memories right there in black and white or color.
The pictures are always there for you to look at in those big photo albums. You can leaf through the pages and recall the times — the fun, the pride, the love.
And you smile.
This happens all the time for most families. At least those lucky enough to still have those albums. But many families lost those photo albums over the years — the biggest thief being the Agnes flood of 1972. That’s when the Susquehanna River burst through the protective levee and flowed into our homes and businesses, taking with it everything we value.
Especially those memories.
That’s what happened to me and my memories. We had many photo albums filled with pictures of my family going all the way back to my great-grandparents. There were photos of my dad’s side — the O’Boyles — and my mom’s side — the Kraszewskis. The photo albums displayed many people I have never met or talked to, but had heard about over the years.
Now they were all gone.
Among those photo albums were many pictures of my mother — from her earliest years, through her high school days and through her marriage to my dad and many were of me and my mom.
This past Thursday, May 10, marked the 50th anniversary of my mom’s death. She was 42 when she died on the day before Mother’s Day of the year I graduated high school. I have missed her every single day since her death, thinking of her often every day. Same goes for my dad, who passed in 1995.
So when you go day to day without living parents, those old pictures are cherished. Looking at them and remembering the circumstances of each picture brings them back in mind and heart.
The sad thing is that I have few pictures of my family, especially of my dad and my mom. I can tell you I do have a few photos, given to me by family members who recognized how appreciative I would be to have them.
A black and white photo of my mom and dad on their wedding day hangs in my house. I look at it every day and smile. I say “good morning” to them before I leave for work and “good night” when I go to bed.
Another photo is of my mom and dad and me and my friends at my birthday party. I think I was maybe 6. It’s in our kitchen with the kids gathered around the table waiting for cake. You can see our coal stove where my mom cooked so many delicious meals and baked so many great pies, cookies and cakes.
Like I said, memories.
And then there is the one of my mom and dad with me as a newborn. They probably just brought me home and posed for the picture. This one is in our living room. I can see the familiar wallpaper design and I remember the fuzzy fabric of the chair and couch. This is the room where we had our Christmas trees and the front door where so many friends and family walked through for celebration after celebration.
And then there are two Polaroid photos of my mom in her favorite chair. These were taken near the end of her life — you can see her pain. But you can also see the pride in her eyes as she looked at me taking the pictures.
I was sitting on the couch in our living room where I always sat as we watched TV on our Admiral black and white — Ed Sullivan and The Beatles, for example. It was where I ate my lunch, usually soup and a sandwich, as I watched “Leave It To Beaver” with my mom.
It’s also where I sat when my mom asked me if I would give her a kidney if she needed one — which she did. My answer was quick and sincere, “I’ll give you both of mine if you need them.”
She smiled and responded, “I would never ask you. I just wanted to hear your answer.”
Kidney transplants were not common back then. Still, I regret we never tried.
There are a few other photos, but not many. The memories I have are clear, many pleasant, some not so much.
And I wonder how many pictures were lost and with them so many memories.
As another mother-less Mother’s Day arrives for me, I cling to the memories I have and I look at those few pictures.
My hope is that all of you celebrate your mothers today and every day and cherish those memories forever.
And make sure you always take pictures.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle, or email at Times Leader.com.