Uncle Jim’s face, etched in concentration as he releases a rope swing bearing a laughing Aunty Marie. There is no sound, but none is required as their laughter is so obvious in their animated faces as the swing bearing a youthful Aunt swings out over the bushy outcrop dangling her above the steep embankment. The camera pans to show her three sons doubled over in laughter.
Another flicker and a younger Marie is now in her wedding dress. The smiling younger version of Marie is obviously ready for the day ahead, as the camera captures a youthful excitement. The camera is a silent witness as it captures the memory of Marie’s sisters, a hug from her beaming mother, my Nana, and a quiet nod from her father, my Pa. The bridal party poses on the stairs of the old farm house, “Walton”. With no colour I can only imagine the gardens that I am sure my Nana tended before the big day, what colour are those roses?
Another wedding, this time my own mother. The camera records her wedding day with echo’s of Maries day just a year or so before. A similar smiling bride, her sisters, and this time her new sister in law. I know that the dresses are in a “rainbow” theme, but the camera fails to capture this with the grainy black and white images. The same wide verandah and stairs. The wedding party posing for their formal photos. Do I see less joy or am I super imposing my own memories of a doomed marriage? My dad looks uncharacteristically animated. My Nana and Pa pose for the camera, and I remember the same pose in the formal photos I have in my family album. The dress Nana wore hangs in my wardrobe, a hand painted black velvet shift. I wonder if it was purchased new for my parents wedding because the dress goes on to feature in subsequent weddings.
The footage goes on, showing three more Aunties, all married from the family home. “Walton” is a special place for my older cousins and their parents. The grand victorian style weatherboard was substantial, boasting its own ballroom. My memories are borrowed from my cousins who speak of Walton with love and affection so deep that an outside might wonder if Walton was a person and not a place.
The black and white images give way to colour, as the weddings of my two uncles are also captured. First Uncle John, tall, self assured. His wife confident in her position within the family, marrying the “Golden Son”. Now images of Uncle Rick, in the context of my uncles character with images of motor boats and motor bikes. His bride laughing and enjoying a less formal affair. Walton doesn’t feature in these weddings, the family no longer lives there.
The weddings of two cousins follow. I watch intently, trying to identify people I’ve not seen for many years. Weddings and Funerals formed the back bone of compulsory family gatherings. I imagine that all families experience the joy and sadness inherent in the traditions that surround these celebrations.
I watch as the film comes to an end and wonder at amazement that it has surfaced after so many years rekindling memories of people I will not see again. Their faces, joy and laughter captured at a moment in time and preserved beyond their lifetimes.