Mementos: A Photo, by Renee

They say a picture is worth a thousand words but this one, this one is worth so very much more.

Just over a year ago my father sent me a package in the mail.  Intrigued since it wasn’t my birthday or Christmas, I opened it up totally unprepared for what I would find.  My dad had sent me a package of photographs that either he had taken himself or had been given over the past 30 years.  I immediately felt a lump in my throat.  There were photos of us on holidays and at family weddings, there was even a book I had made dad in grade two where I had described what I loved most about my dad – “He is big and strong and has black hair.  He wouldn’t be any
taller than 150cm.” I guess to a kid that’s big right?
But then I got to a photo that made my heart stop.  My father had written on the bottom of this old Polaroid circa 1980-ish “Don’t get any better than this”.  I had a reaction that I couldn’t explain.

You see I am from a broken family.  My parents divorced when I was seven. My brother was four.  I clearly remember the day; I saw my mother waiting at the school gate with all the other mums and toddlers waiting for the bell to announce the end of the day.  I excitingly ran over and overhead another mother say “Good luck with James”.  I innocently asked who that was, only to be
told that he was the man we would be living with from now on.  We went inside to collect my school books and seeing me sobbing my teacher tried to talk to my mum.  It didn’t change anything.  Whilst my mum collected my books my teacher took me to the toilet and knelt down and told me that everything would be okay and gave me a cuddle.  I just wanted my dad.  My mum came in and took my hand and we left.  I never saw that school again.

We got in the car with my brother and this man I had never seen before and took the short drive to my father’s workplace.  I remember dad looking at us and immediately knowing something was very wrong.  I was crying uncontrollably and even though I doubt my brother knew what was happening he too had started to cry.  There we were – me, my dad and my brother all holding one another bawling our eyes out on the street outside the store.  Our lives had changed forever.


After we left my mother stopped at a shop and bought me a Dixie Cup ice-cream (was that supposed to help?).  I remember spilling some on the car seat and being told off because it wasn’t James’ car.  We got on a plane and arrived in Melbourne at a hotel with a rooftop garden.  I remember every detail.

Here is the problem.  Whilst my memories of that awful day are so crystal clear, what I don’t remember is this day with my brother and our dad on that old BMX bike.
I feel so much when I see it but I have no memory of what looks to be a happy day. So what does this photo mean to me?  It means that once upon a time I had a childhood with a dad who enjoyed spending time with me.  It means that even though I can’t remember them, the memories must be somewhere in my head and seeing the photo framed on my wall everyday gives me hope that one day they will surface. But until that day I still have the Polaroid on my wall and each time I see it I have a rush of love for my dad and a longing for things to be different.

Mega thanks to the Two Girls for contacting me to share this little piece of me x

What are your mementos and why do you keep them?

If you liked this post, why not read the post that inspired it, Russell Kelly’s You are your mementos.
You might also like One Girl’s response, Mementos: It’s all about their meaning.

About Renee
Renee is a home grown Tassie girl.  A wife, mother and friend who despite her fractured foundation, has gone on to build a strong and loving home for her children with the love of her life.

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