Saturday, 30 January 2010

Sepia Saturday: I Know That Face

One of the joys of having children is watching them grow and develop. From the moment of birth, we’re eager to recognise similarities in their features; daddy’s nose, mummy’s eyes, and so on.

As children, ourselves, many of us will watch our parents age over the years. Yet, because we’ve only ever known them as adults, facial changes, although often quite significant, don’t seem to register until we look back at snapshots taken through time.

Photographs of our parents, taken when they were children are fascinating. They allow us to make important connections and ‘rubber stamp’ our lineage.

When I look closely at this picture of my mum, when she was aged two or three, it’s obvious that our first granddaughter, Speckly Woo!, shares a certain resemblance, particularly the ‘windswept and interesting’ hairstyle.

But this image of my mum, as a young woman, must have made quite an impression on me when I was small because, in my mind’s eye, this is how I always see her. Even today, when I’m in her company, if I close my eyes, this is what appears.

More Sepia Saturday participants, here 

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges 


  1. It's funny how we hold a particular time in our minds and that's the way we see people. I expect that's how we are as couples as we grow older too—always seeing the one we first fell in love with despite the baldness or grey hair and wrinkles.
    I love both of the photos you shown us today. The child looks wee bit unhappy about it all, but the lady is elegantly put together with a beguiling smile.
    My mother is nearly 81 and I have her fixed somewhere in her 50s. Funny.


  2. Wonderful photographs. I recently had the opposite experience when meeting an old friend I hadn't seen in 20 years. Before meeting him again I had an image of him two decades out of date. When I saw him he had changed so much and after our meeting I suddenly realized I could no longer called to mind my view of him 20 years ago. My brain had updated the image.

    Strange that.

  3. What lovely pictures. Your posts are so thought provoking. I hadn't realised until you put it into words, but I have a picture of my mum when she was a young woman and that is how she has always looked in my mind.

  4. Excellent post. I do indeed remember my parents in their younger versions. As I remember all of my friends from school days. It's as though the early images get burned in and never quite disappear.

    It still surprises me to see my brother with white hair.

  5. What a lovely contrast between the two pictures! I see my mother at several ages depending on the particular memories, but mostly as a young mother - beautiful, still optimistic and smiling.

  6. I agree that photos of our parents when they were children are an amazing study for us. And like you, I have a black & white photo of my mother that hangs in our office because that is the photo for me... she was 18 and preparing to go to college. I have it there because that is how I like to think of her, though my mother is still alive. Funny how that works...

    And, now I have a faint idea how the young and admirable artist Speckly Woo! looks... :-) Both photos of your mother are lovely, Martin, and thank you for sharing them with us. Memories...


  7. I love that you close your eyes and your lovely mother appears, just as you saw her as a child. And every time I see the name "Speckly Woo", I giggle!

  8. It's funny how pictures of young children in that time are often of them looking very suspiciously at the person taking the picture. They must have wondered what on earth was going on. Nowadays, I bet babies very quickly get used to having a camera or phone pointed at them. Times change.

  9. I agree with Barry....I do that with old friends, too. Your mother is beautiful!

  10. Kat

    I think you're right about how couples see one another as they grow older. I think this is an indication that we saw something way beneath the surface from the the outset.


    I had a very similar experience a couple of years ago. We met up with a couple after 25 years. The husband had changed so much, yet his wife was just as I remembered her. For the life of me, I can hardly see him as a younger man now. And we were at school together!


    Thank you. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who sees his mum that way. Strange though, isn't it?


    Could it be that first impressions count for more than we think?

    Our daughter has a photograph of me, Mags and herself, taken in 1980, hanging on the wall in the lounge. Yesterday, I caught our Speckly Woo! looking, first at the photograph, then at me, and back again. She took some convincing that it really was grandad in the picture.


    That's a lovely way to remember your mother.


    Thank you. That's precisely how it is with me. My mum is still alive and I see her regularly, but that doesn't affect the image in my mind's eye.

    Yes, little clue about Speckly Woo! I'll be adding to her current exhibition in the not-too-distant future.


    I can't really explain it, but it seems as though I'm not alone. Speckly Woo! also has the ability to render a person helpless with laughter. She's a treasure.


    Funny you should say that. We actually bought a little camera for Speckly Woo! last Christmas. I'm hoping to download her efforts and run them as slideshow in her gallery at some point.


    Thank you for your kind comments. That photograph is possibly my favourite of all that I have of her.

  11. What a great face - full of character! That you see her at the later age is so heartwarming.

  12. "Even today, when I’m in her company, if I close my eyes, this is what appears."
    I have an image of my parents that always stays with me. It's of the two of them in the mid-1950s in a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers type pose.
    My parents are no longer together but I always hold that image firm, as a vision of the good times.
    Evelyn in Montreal

  13. Precious little girl...very lovely young woman...and perfect image for you to hold in your mind! It is fascinating how our present mind conspires and bargains with memory so that we get the best of both in the end! Wonderful post!

  14. Wonderful photographs. She kept the same sweet face.

  15. It is truly amazing, how faces echo through the generations.

  16. She is a very beautiful woman. The young pictures seem so strange as we never knew our parents when they were young, and especially before the had grown out of childhood. It is fun though to look at them. Great blog.

  17. such a thoughtful expression on your mum's face when she was a wee lass....and how sweet that in your mind's eye you see you mum as she is in the second snap....a most beautiful woman.

  18. It always amazes me, in looking at old photographs of my parents, to think that they had this long existence, going back decades before my earliest memory of them, that they were, after all people, who, at one time, had never even imagined me.... A lovely, thought-provoking post....

  19. Stephanie

    Thank you.
    This does seem to be a fairly common phenomenon. It's as though we have a tendency to remember people as they were when we entered the room.


    I think you may have touched on another explanation here. Maybe it's the optimist in us that defaults to signs and reminders of the 'good times'.


    "..our present mind conspires and bargains with memory.." Exactly that.

    Pamela Terry and Edward

    Thank you.


    I know what you mean. Family resemblances suggest a link to immortality, don't they?


    That's a very nice compliment, and I appreciate it. I'm sure my mum will.

    I'm a big fan of family storytelling. It's a great way to fill in the 'mystery' years before we made our our entrance as children.


    Thank you. She does look a little wary of the camera, doesn't she? A lot more confident in the second photograph though.


    When I read your comment, it struck me that I might have written it myself. We are definitely on the same wavelength here.

  20. ah she was lovely.
    yes, I have one or two favourite pictures of my mum at around this age.

    and theres a family "face" - I think its the bone structure - which is travelling through the generations and clearly recognisable in at least 5 or 6 family members down the C20 and 21st.

  21. lettuce

    Thank you.
    We always need to be aware of those threads and connections that hold us all together, don't we?

  22. I found this quite moving, Martin. I am blessed to have a wall of old family photos going way, way back to peruse in my parents. And yes, it is often quite staggering how the genes jump around the generations, isn't it?

  23. Hi Martin

    I enjoyed the photos of your mother as a child and with the lustrous hair and ready to burst into womanhood.

    I don't have a picture of my mother set in my mind's eye as she is still alive and well but my Dad who is trail and fading I still see as a robust and agile man. I don't want to think of him as that thin weak old fellow in the home...denial I suppose...

    I love to see sparks of past generations appearing in my children, in their demeanour and habits...

    Happy days

  24. Ciara

    Thank you. I read about your wall of family photographs and I think it's wonderful thing to have. It's so important to have that sense of who we are and where we came from.


    I continued this conversation with my mum yesterday. It's a strange phenomenon. She finds it difficult to remember her mother as a young woman.

    I was very close to my grandfather until he died, aged 92. Whenever I think of him, he is tall and strong, tanned and full of life. I don't think it's so much denial because I have such fond memories of him right until the end.

    I feel there could be at least another post on this subject.


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