A Bad Day With A Camera

Sweet Memories

There are two board games I remember from when I was very young. We’re talking about being in Kindergarten type of young, which is now five decades in my rearview mirror. The first is Snakes and Ladders, which I would not play because I was terrified of any sort of snake, and the ones on the game board up set me off (hey, I was like five, okay?). The second game that I remember and that I loved was Candyland.

Some of my happiest childhood memories are of playing the game with my mom on her days off work. She was a single mother who worked as a pediatric nurse and I stayed with my grandmother while mom was working. Getting to spend time with her on her days off was special. We’d play a few games of Candyland and I always had a small dish of candy I could snack on while we played, which was a precious treat.

The original game I played with my mother was lost in a house fire in my early teens, sadly. It is one of those things I would dearly have loved to hang onto to play with my own daughter, who is now an adult. It would also have been lovely to pass on to her to play with her kids, should she ever have some. In any case, whenever the memories surface of playing Candyland with my mom they are both pleasant and welcome.

I was also completely crazy about sweet candy as a kid because it wasn’t something I got much of at home. My mother was an insulin-dependent diabetic and having the stuff around was too much of a temptation for her. I would be handed some change on rare occasions and we’d walk to the local corner store on a summer day. I remember her being patient as I tried to decide what candy I was purchasing with my quarter as there were so many different ones to try and I only had a quarter. I occasionally managed to wheedle a second quarter out of her, but it didn’t happen often.

When I consciously try to remember my mother now, I am lucky if I can get an occasional flash of her face or a bit of her laugh. It’s amazing how the worst moments of our lives can replay in perfect detail every night in our dreams, but the most treasured memories evaporate despite our best efforts to hang onto them.

When I look at pictures I have taken of candy, I suddenly have powerful memories of Mom. I remember the smell of the Nivea cream she used as she ran her hand through my hair (it was blond then) or giggling when she booped my nose. I can remember her laughing and the sound of her voice. I remember seeing the light from the window in her hair. I remember the feel of our hands bumping on the spinner when I tried to sneak in a second turn in a row while playing Candyland. Her skin was so soft. I remember shrieking with pleasure when I landed on the shortcut through the Gumdrop Mountains. I can taste the jujube from the candies we always had while playing this game slowly dissolving in my mouth because candy was rare and savored.

Other memories also float up. My mom would buy me a bottle of Fanta Orange Soda on really special days during a trip to the store and then we would sit outside the store on the picnic bench chatting about what was going on with me and my friends, or what gran and I had been up to. I would always experiment with resting a candy on my tongue so I could experience how it changed the flavour of the soda, or how the orange pop made it fizz. The pop would occasionally turn something extremely sour and mom would laugh at the look on my face.

As a fine art photographer, my default view is that my role is to save the beauty in this moment for the ones that follow. As a father I tried, (and sometimes had to be reminded) that photographs are vital records of the important moments of our lives.

What amazes me about photography is that the right photo or the right subjects in photos can open a doorway that allows us to go back and experience our past again in detail. The sights, the sounds, the smells, what we saw and didn’t remember until we did. Photography isn’t just about creating art or a record, it’s about connecting us with the things that make us … us.

I don’t have to think consciously to bring back the best memories of my mother now. I just have to go into the nearest Bulk Barn’s candy section with a camera to get more pictures of candy and look at them when I need to travel back to a good moment.

Note: All images in this diary entry save for the top two were produced using a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra mobile phone camera.

Next Post

Previous Post

© 2024 Sean D. McCormick

Follow by Email
Copy link