Today’s blogging prompt from WordPress is the word: GENERATION.
When I saw that, I immediately put an “s” on it in my head, and started thinking about GENERATIONS – and then this image below jumped out at me:
The bracelet was my mom’s from when she was young. The charms are things she added over several years: souvenirs from trips she took…a commemoration of her 21st birthday. There are various others. I don’t even know the stories behind all of them – but Mae does. She knows every single one.
And it occurs to me that, with that, at seven, she’s already become a keeper in her own right of family history. Collective family memory.
Looking at the picture, I found myself studying the colored charms that Mae has added to the bracelet in the time since it’s come into her possession. My mom’s charms are all silver – but Mae’s all about color! And she also doesn’t limit herself to actual made-for-a-charm-bracelet charms. She’s in fact thrilled by the fact that she’s mixed things that mean something to her (a plastic bead she found and thought was beautiful, for example) in with the charms her grandma collected. Because now it’s theirs.
And it occurred to me, thinking about that, that this bracelet isn’t just a piece of jewelry now. It isn’t even just an interesting, eclectic record of a period of time anymore – like perhaps it was for my mom before she passed it to Mae. It’s taken on another quality.
I just fully realized that this past weekend, when Mae took the bracelet out and I took some pictures of her holding it and looking at it.*
What’s happened – somewhere in the act of my mom passing the bracelet to Mae and sharing her stories, and Mae taking on ownership (of the stories as well as the bracelet) and adding her own – is that that bracelet has become essentially the tangible remnant of the millions of moments in time that make up a relationship between two people. Like this one:
I look at the bracelet in Mae’s hands now and I see this beach image in my head. The bracelet is what it is now because moments like the beach image have existed. The bracelet is the permanent commemoration of those ephemeral, fleeting moments.
And that’s a really interesting and beautiful thing!
Mae is most definitely aware of that element. She (obviously, at seven) doesn’t think it through like that. But her awareness comes out in her manner and in the things she thinks about and comments on when she has the bracelet in hand.
Mae’s already musing about who she might pass the bracelet down to someday. Her own granddaughter? She’s envisioning what charms that person might add – and what the bracelet will look like then.
What will it be like then?
I like that.
*It’s crazy how much more I see – and more, how easily and obviously I see it – when I have a camera in my hand. I know I’ve said this more than once (here for instance) – but what an amazing tool for mindfulness (and, with that, clarity and understanding) photography is!