Power in Pictures
I read about this study once where they showed Alzheimer's patients photos of their past and asked them questions repeatedly about the images. I guess the improvement was remarkable. They started putting those electronic frames that shuffle through pictures in every room of the nursing home where the study was conducted. Family members were encouraged to visit and watch the slideshows, sharing everything that was special to them about the images on the screen.
Suddenly a flood of memories came pouring from the minds of the elderly.
The researchers didn't just ask for names, places or dates related to the images. They wanted to know how that picture made the patient feel. Triggering waves of nostalgia that transcend the present reality. The warmth of Grandma's patterned couch sinking in too deeply and wrapping up its little visitors in a cozy cocoon. The smell of a newborn baby contentedly snuggled on his mother's chest. The inconvenience of a broken limb and using whatever means necessary to itch underneath the cast full of scribbled signatures.
Pictures are powerful. It's probably no surprise that I think that. But sometimes their influence catches me off guard.
The pictures in this post were taken in our old apartment while Mark was in grad school and we were starting our family. When I accidentally came across them, I felt like those patients in that memory study. I'm only a couple years removed from the experiences in these photos but with all that's happened in our lives since then, it feels like a million years ago.
The sleeplessness caused by twin boys has taken its toll on my hippocampus, or wherever memories are processed. Sometimes I don't even remember if I could ever remember anything at all. Was I always a space cadet? (Mark don't answer that.) If so, then at least my kids give me a really good excuse now.
Sorry I forgot your name. It's the twins. Sorry I forgot to call. It's the twins. Sorry I forgot to buy (and put on) deoderant. Twins. Sorry I backed into your car. Twins.
Sorry sorry sorry.
Twins twins twins.
I'm hoping my brain is restored as the kids get older. But I also know that memories are not a guarantee. I remember visiting my great grandma in the nursing home when I was around 12 and she couldn't recall my grandma's, her own daughter's, name.
It runs in the family, so sometimes I think God gave me this desire to keep telling our family stories so I'll have a place to find those long lost feelings one day. I pray that's not the case, and hopefully those researchers will have found a cure for memory loss by the time I need it. (Most days I think I already do).
Either way, I'm thankful for images and how they retrieve parts of my life I thought were lost.
It's sad, but I can't recall much of Levi's first year. Whenever someone asks me to compare Levi's milestones with the Twins', I search through the Levi file cabinet in my brain and come up with a bunch of empty folders. He wasn't even a middle child yet but subconsciously I was already treating him as one.
Then I uncovered these pictures and looked at his big brown eyes. His chubby cheeks. That head. And the way he'd light up whenever Evy walked in the room.
The missing files reappeared. Looking at Evy in her purple skirt at two years old and Levi at the same age as the twins are now, transported me back.
Along with the Levi memories, the pictures brought a fondness for that old apartment. It was dark and small and cockroaches visited daily. The walls were a bland beige that gave everyone and everything a yellow hue. Landscapers were always leaf blowing right outside Evy's window during nap time every single day. (How are there so many leaves??!)
But I couldn't help feeling like it was my grandma's old patterned couch. A cozy spot that we sunk deeply into for some of the major transitions of our lives.
I'm so glad I ignored the lack of natural light and took these photos. If I grow too old to remember much, I'll add these to my bedside electronic picture frame.