You don’t have to call yourself a writer to write meaningful vignettes about your life. There are some notable books that can guide you on the journey of writing your life stories, and our blog regularly offers advice on the topic. Sometimes, though, all you need is a little inspiration.
With that in mind, here is the second contribution in our “Pictures Into Words” series, vignettes from other memory-keepers who know the joy and process of using a photograph as a prompt for writing. Each provides not only a wonderful short read, but a fine and unique example of how you too may approach telling the stories behind your family photographs.
Since it's still May, we’re proud to feature recollections of another strong matriarch in honor of Mother’s Day. In her piece, Yuliana Gomez Delgado reflects on a favorite photograph with her grandmother, a shot that has taken on new meaning now that Yuliana herself knows what it is to be called Mother.
Pictures Into Words:
By Yuliana Delgado
I keep this picture in a safe place because of all that it represents to me. It was Mother's Day 1996 and we were visiting my Mamita (what I called my mom’s mom, my abuela or grandma) after church that Sunday. I was hamming it up for the camera, but I can still feel the scratchy icky-ness of those seldom-worn pantyhose on my legs and how silly I felt in my beige suit. What can I say, I tried to dress up a little since I lived in sweats and tees pretty much all the time (I was in college after all!). Beyond how I felt about my church garb on that day, what I remember clear as day is the incredible love and gratitude I felt for Mamita, whose health had been declining rapidly over the previous months.
Holy crap, that was 20 years ago! I was in my teens and a sophomore in college. And yet, despite my relative youth, I think I knew how little time I had left with my incredible, wonderful, always happy, always positive Mamita, María Noemí. In the days that followed that weekend, we visited her Queens apartment as much as we possibly could, to spend time or just to help around the house after her grueling radiation sessions or after those exam days, when the poking and prodding she had to endure at the hospital left her exhausted.
Almost two years to the day that this picture was taken, Mamita left us, finally succumbing to the cancer that had ravaged her body. Despite the fact that I knew it was coming—and as I think is always the case—her death was beyond painful, surprising, crushing. It didn’t matter that I knew the day would come, it had to come; knowing she was gone forever still destroyed me. Burying her was saying goodbye to my childhood—it was the first time I realized time went forever forward, and so many happy memories were destined to stay behind.
I found this photograph about two years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter. While we had decided upon Sofía as our girl’s first name, we were struggling with a middle name. The picture brought inspiration. I would honor Mamita in a most special way, one that would keep her ever-present in my life: We would give our baby Mamita's middle name. It was the best way I could honor her, so many years after she left us. And Sofía Noemí is in, so many ways, a little bit like Mamita.
I hope Mamita’s great-granddaughter can carry on her spirit and legacy. Her name is a way to have her again in our lives. And whenever I look at my Sofi, I know we chose the name well.
Yuliana Gomez Delgado is the managing editor at MamasLatinas.com. She lives in New Jersey with her hubby, 4-year-old son, 20-month-old daughter, and two cranky Chihuahuas, Pablo and Arnie.