Growing up, I assumed everyone spent family vacations traipsing through old cemeteries. My parents and my grandparents were avid genealogists; my grandfather was a professional historian. While I loved cemeteries, I didn't understand my family's fascination with ancient data about people we never knew. I was more concerned with where I was going than where I had been.
However, I love old photographs, and over the years I developed an interest in restoring damaged images. My passion is restoring old portraits (and any photographs with people); the stances, the eyes, the setting of the mouths and jaws, and the lines in the faces tell such vivid stories.
I also have an obsession (be it delusional) for having my world organized and identified. After the death of my mom, I began the process of identifying people and places in some of her unlabeled photographs. That simple quest has now led me full circle to the passion of my parents and grandparents. Now I am the one pouring through mountains of data, organizing and computerizing family records, and haunting cemeteries. When I get excited about finding the grave of a long lost relative, reconnecting with extended family or discovering a wonderful old photograph, I see in my teenagers' eyes the same glazed look that I remember coming from my own eyes as a youth. I smile, and hope that I will be around long enough to see my children get that same look from their teenagers.
"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people." --Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese Monk and Writer. b.1926)