Mental Photo Ops

A breaking dawn this past week

My mind wandered for a few moments this past week. Okay, don’t verbalize what you’re thinking… 🙂

But in that moment what popped into my head was a mental picture. You know what I mean, don’t you? Those pictures permanently etched on our inner eyelids. And yes, while I think of the best way to introduce a new scene into a new chapter for my current novel, I close my eyes and let my mind wander.

This time, however, I didn’t come up with the best detail to start my new scene, but I did pause and consider those Kodak moments permanently etched in our minds. The one that came to mind was the first moment I saw my son Jimbo just a few hours before he died. He looked at peace. And dead. I can’t describe that look in any less blunt language. For all intents and purposes, he was–as his doctors carefully explained his condition to me.

They wouldn’t have had to. It was very clear to me.

No camera was there to record that moment–not that I wanted it recorded. But that mental camera of mine took its best shot anyway–and saved it. At the oddest moments that scene pops into my mind just like unexpected photos show up in odd places at times, such as in a sock drawer or in an old envelope.

A brief upper edge of dawn

I thought about other mental photo ops I have gathered. My father-in-law’s face when he gazed upon my newborn oldest son–and the man’s first grandchild. That was a good photo memory.

The little carrel in the graduate library top floor where I wrote the first draft of my dissertation. Never did get a real photo of that.

The split second moment in a temporary hospital morgue when the sheet was pulled back on a corpse and I had to identify my second son John.

The inner eyelid snapshot of my hubby’s car, the driver’s side door wide open, our garage door up and the front door to our home wide open as I drove up. That was the day our youngest son fell down the stairs, broke his neck, and would never use stairs again. A momentous event, actually a catastrophic one for our whole family, and one we have lived with daily for the past 17 3/4 years.

My mother’s last breath with my niece, my sisters and I surrounding her as that final tortured breath left her body and the best of Mom joined all those she loved who died before her. Only the negative in my mind remains of that indelible picture.

Here comes the sun...

So I thought about those mental photo ops I carry with me and the fact that once in a while they pop up. I realized most of those moments are not happy ones for me. Those happy ones I’ve managed to capture for real. And frame them, display them, think and talk of them often.

Shaking my head at those thoughts, the perfect idea to begin that new scene slipped into my brain. When I finished it a few hours later, I sat back in my office chair and smiled. I loved what I’d written in that new scene. It wasn’t a sad scene, but it had the elements to make it powerful for my potential readers.

Plus I’d come up with the topic for today’s post. 🙂

So tell me, please. Are your inner eyelid photos more happy or sad in their number?

Or don’t you have any such images?

Pink dawn light on waves with green grass--spring

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16 Comments on “Mental Photo Ops”

  1. Edie Ramer Says:

    I’ve got happy and sad, too. That happens when you live long enough. And lately my cat has been so needy that she keeps coming to me for some loving. Though these interruptions are often inconvenient, it’s hard to get mad or think about sad things when she’s kneading my thighs and purring. 🙂

  2. Nancy Kaye Says:

    I have both happy and sad. I think I remember many moments in my life when I would realize these were special, happy moments. that may never be repeated. The birth of my two children immediately comes to mind. That is followed by the births of my grandchildren. Holding all seven of them when they were born will always be a Kodak moment for me. Sadness is a part of life. I can picture those too, but I also feel they were important life defining moments that made me who I am. They will ambush me when I least expect them, and I will catch my breath and go on. Life demands it.

  3. I loved your stories about the mental images that pop into your head. The ones about your two sons was so sad, I wanted to cry. So much sadness.
    My mental photos? I picture my mom lying on her back in the convalescent hospital right before her death. My nephew in the ICU in a coma right before he died at the age of 30. Good Golly, I guess my mental photos ARE similar to yours.
    I’m trying to picture the first time I nursed my son, right? One of the happiest times of my life, right? And I cannot picture it.
    You have made me think about this. And now I really have to take a “time out” on this subject.

  4. Nancy,

    I find it interesting that you mention the births of your children and grandchildren. I have memories of those moments but no mental images. I’ll have to think about why though I suspect it’s because I’ve got photos taken not long after that. So I guess my brain focuses on knowing they are at my fingertips–literally.

    Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

  5. Edie,

    I’m so sorry about your cat. I know you’ve mentioned somewhere his health has been failing. I find it so interesting how we pet lovers so quickly find our pets become so integral to our lives.

    Thanks for sharing and stopping by.

  6. Patti,

    Let me know where your thinking leads you. Actually, as I wrote this I was thinking about a possible novella on this idea.

    I think the reason you can’t picture that moment in nursing your son is because you have so many other sensory memories of that moment and likely thousands of photos of him. Those sad moments particularly ones where death is the result–we have no further sensory or photo images. What do you think of that idea?

    Thanks for stopping by.

  7. You might be onto something there, Casey. My son is still alive and so my “memories” of him surround me every day in all the pictures plastered on the walls across from where I sit day in and day out, writing. Yet, you know, when I see his baby pictures it makes me uber-aware of how time passed so quickly since he was born and I get sad. Or is that termed “nostalgic”?

  8. Patti,

    I suspect that feeling is nostalgic maybe with a dash of awareness that time has passed. After all, isn’t nostalgia tied to feelings for the past? 🙂

  9. Elle J Rossi Says:

    More sad than happy for sure. I’m not certain why that is, but think it may be related to how deeply we feel and love. But sometimes even the sad ones make me smile because the start the slide show of life and within life are some of the most amazing moments.

  10. A day late, but never short on the wow factor. Love this so much. I can also “frame” a mental picture of your moments. We do that, don’t we? We frame those moments … not really Kodak moments we hang on the wall or place in a photo album … those moments are framed in our mind and it is always at the time we least expect that they flash in our inner eye.

  11. Elle,

    I like your idea that even the sad ones make you smile because they form part of the slide show of our lives. Actually I love that phrase and am quite sure it fits the visual talents you have with art as well as words.

    Thanks for stopping in and congrats on those great covers coming up this summer–as well as the stories within the covers.

  12. Florence,

    Yes, we frame “those” pictures. For me that frame is the shape and circumference of my eyelids. When they pop up, they trigger an emotional rush. Oftentimes I don’t want to pick at them, like the ones of my 3 sons which I mentioned.

    Thank you for the “wow factor” comment. I appreciate it and you’re always welcome to stop by whenever a visit fits your schedule. I appreciate your comments and your visits.

  13. I have so many vivid inner snapshots. They run the gamut of emotions. I try to share them with with a sprinkling of humor because that makes them easier to tell, but they sure aren’t all happy memories. But they are my memories and that makes me happy…

  14. Lorna,

    Ah, those inner snapshots. Because they are so vivid, they do prompt emotions–of all types. I think it’s good we have them and can respond to them in some way as they comprise a part of what we are and our own personal history that has shaped us.

    Best they make us happy with what has shaped us overall rather than furious at those snapshots that don’t go away.

  15. carol gianforte Says:

    Your life has had unspeakable sadness…But as you continue on, you are a guide to those around you. Not everyone could have survived these experiences to go on with a productive life. Perhaps EAster and its promises are a help to you; but that is an individual situation.

  16. Carol,

    Easter is always a special time for us as a family. One of my happiest moments is the concept of the egg hunt after Easter services that I used as a basis for one of the scenes in Seasons of Wine and Love. I made it different as Seasons is fiction but the essence and purpose of that scene significantly tied into a very happy memory.

    Have a glorious Easter wherever you are spending it and whatever you are doing. 🙂

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