Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Lost Photos of My Childhood

San Antonio De Pichincha, Ecuador. The equator, the centre of the earth. Back when our family was six not ten.
We lost a whole heap of our family photos, and a lot of the memories that go with them, around 15 years ago. And they were in storage with my dad for years before that too. Losing them? Well that's a huge story in itself. But my younger brother Josiah has taken it upon himself to take old slides over to my dad's place. Together they have worked at bringing all those old photos out into 2015 formatting. So today a whole bunch of them showed up on our family's Facebook page.
Charisma, Melissa and baby Jess (me)

I was calling my mum for Mother's Day in Canada and my mum and I laughed and shared stories as we looked at them. I think we all start to feel a a mix between nostalgia and pain when we see these photos.
My mum and me in Church in Ecuador  -1982
I then got on to Skype with my sister Melissa in Wisconsin. My sister and I rarely speak on Skype, and not because we don't care about each other. I guess it probably has something more to do with how disconnected my family is from all the trauma we have gone through, and how much geographical distance there is between us. We both left the 2 hour conversation wishing we spoke more, (we do need to change that).
My sister Melissa wishing that was her puppy

Melissa getting coconut with Dad

Rocking my mullet (Yes! I finally have proof). Hanging out in the Ecuadorian Mountains somewhere?
We spoke about the photos and how it's so odd to see us spending time with our dad and having fun. Or being reminded of the really great places we went to as a family when we were so little, most of them in Ecuador. When I think of my childhood everything feels like it has a cloud hanging over it. It's a fog that hangs over my memories. I find it hard to remember the good stuff that happened because there was so much pain. Looking at these pictures makes me feel happy for 'little Jess' and my sisters because I can see myself doing the things kids should have been doing at that age. Lot's of playing and loving life. And then I feel sad because so much of that has been tainted.
Melissa and her missionary mullet friend. What? Didn't everyone have one?
I look at this picture of Melissa sitting on these monkey bars in Guayaquil. It was taken at the missionary compound that Dad would take us to play at, while he played basketball. Happy picture right? I look at it and remember when he forgot all of us there. I remember how scared and abandoned I felt. He came back to get us after he arrived home and realised his welcoming committee wasn't there to greet him. And then another happy memory comes of him taking us to the ice cream parlour after his games, how I would always get cookies'n'cream and Vanessa would always get bright blue bubblegum.


There's this photo of this little girl looking out from the log on the beach in Vancouver. At first glance we all think it's me. But when you zoom in you see the little girl has Vanessa's eyes and cute button nose. We are 2 years apart but everyone always thought we were twins. We really loved that for a time, like when we were little and best-friends. She told me she looked up to me so much that she liked when people thought that. Until she didn't anymore because we were now adolescents hitting puberty. I was just the older sister who was always telling her off for her messy room, or the mouldy apples she left under the bed. There was a distance that grew between us because of the pain we both felt from being abused, and neither of us knew a way out. Now I'd be proud to be called her twin. But it took a lot of work on both our parts to heal those damaged parts of our relationship and call each other friend again.
Mum in the traditional dress of the Otavalo, Ecuador
I look at pictures of my mum and see how beautiful she was. Her long, dark thick and healthy hair flowing down her back and over her shoulders. She was around the same age as I am now. Her slender body leaning over us or holding us. Pictures of her before the stress showed on her face. Before the stress aged her beyond her age. I see all the sacrifices she made, leaving America and following her Canadian husband to Ecuador to spread the good news about Jesus. The toll the abuse took on her health and her beauty. Her and I joked today how Dad took years off her life and how we don't know yet just how many. Sick, I know. But sometimes you have to laugh because we need these things to be lighter.


When my missionary parents had furloughs in Canada we would live in an elderly people's Community.
Melissa and Charisma

The three older Morris sister (of the eight Morris kids) are busy on facebook right now sharing old memories. Most of the time my oldest sister Charisma needs to set us straight, or my mum pipes up. Already I feel closer to my two older sisters just by looking at these photos and having this to share. Almost as good as being able to sit on the couch and go through an old photo book with them...
Look at me having fun at a waterpark that I have no memory of - haha

Thank you Josiah for giving us this gift of happy memories! Absolutely priceless.
[ More Family history in this post - My Father Broke His Restraining Order]

28 comments:

  1. Wow. it must bring up many mixed feelings but I'm so glad you had happy times too.

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  2. It's important to remember the good times, these photos are lovely xx

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  3. Beautiful, fascinating and so heartfelt. Thank you for such a brave share. It is so special that you found these images. X

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  4. Oh how exciting! I love that coconut one:-) #TeamIBOT

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  5. Looking back on old photos can bring back some many emotions, both the good and the bad. It's amazing how technology today can connect people, like you and your family, together again, even just for a short while to chat about family photos on Facebook and Skype. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. I'm sorry your memories are so tainted Jess. To look at, these are beautiful, happy family pics. I'm glad you have them at least. xx

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  7. You can never tell exactly how someone's life is from photos. These photos look so joyful and I'm sorry if your childhood wasn't as joyful as these photos depict.

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  8. @Shari from GoodFoodWeek I'm creating lot's of happy memories now with my son and husband. Ones I can remember and my son will feel good about when he's older - hopefully. :) Thank you

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  9. @EssentiallyJess I'm so glad they've been recovered. It's always bummed me out how few photos I have of my childhood so this feels like a miracle. Thank you Jess!

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  10. Hooray for technology! So glad my bro was able to bring these photos out of old slides. @Erika @ Ever-changing Life of Thank you

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  11. Exciting...kinda. A bit of a mixed emotion. @Bec @ Seeing the Lighter Side

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  12. @Jody at Six Little Hearts You're always a sweetheart. Thanks for your kind words!

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  13. It's nice to see there were good times :) @Mumma McD:disqus I agree

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  14. Me too. I know I was a little fish in the swimming pool. And still am. As hard as it was my sisters and I are pretty tough women now! We have a lot to be proud of. @HandbagMafia thanks

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  15. I'm sorry that you had to experience this pain, and only hope that looking through these will give you all a chance to rebuild and regroup. All the best.

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  16. I'm glad that you managed to get these pictures back to remember some of the happy memories. Big hugs..

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

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  17. Thanks so much for visiting @Ai Sakura. I'm so happy to have a few more photos of my childhood!

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  18. My family is already a little closer than it was 5 years ago. Progress is very slow. It sometimes seems as soon as one relationship heals another one is broken. But it's worth the work!

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  19. Wow. What fascinating photographs. When I look at old photos I love to look at the things in the background that trigger memories. I hope you find something that will heal your bad memories. You were such a gorgeous baby.

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  20. Goodness me, Jess. I know you've revealed bits and pieces before but bloody hell your backstory never ceases to amaze me. Your mum sounds amazing, too x

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  21. writeofthemiddleMay 16, 2015 at 1:31 PM

    Oh Jess - I had no idea of your family background or childhood. I don't know the details but I'm very sorry there was trauma there. I'm so glad these photo's have brought you some joy and that you and your sister are reconnecting. Your Mum certainly was very beautiful - just as you are! xo

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  22. Ah, Jess. I can only imagine how bittersweet it must be for you and your family. If you can look back and laugh at even the challenging times, you know you've moved on. Hugs, my dear x

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  23. These photos are gorgeous!!!

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  24. @Grace That is so true. My mum was just talking to me tonight and really encouraged me. She said she's so proud of how I have moved on with my life with out bitterness.That was a WOW moment! :)

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  25. AWWW Thanks Min @writeofthemiddle What a lovely comment. Thank you!

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  26. She is amazing. She has endured a lot, and her relationship with her kids has it's own bullet holes but no one could fault her for trying in the end. She got a nursing degree while being a single mum. So BAM! That's awesome!

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  27. @Pinky Poinker Thanks. I don't know if we can ever look back at these photos and only remember the good after the trauma we have been through but that doesn't negate the healing process we have already been through. I'm sure the healing process will continue the rest of my life. I'm just grateful I can look at the photos with out being overwhelmed with sadness now.

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