In loving memory

My mother died two weeks ago. So, a lot of things have changed. First off, I’m grounded. No trips, no vacations, nothing for the foreseeable future. So, that’s different for me. I’m needed at home. There’s things only I can take care of.

Secondly, I didn’t know that she had aspirations of being a travel counsellor. We found a resume in her things. It’s from 20 years ago, but she was hoping to make a move within the organization she worked for and take on a role of travel sales.

In this resume she declares a love for travel and a thirst to see more of the world. I didn’t know this. Actually, it comes as quite a shock. I say this because she openly challenged me when I talked about planning trips. She didn’t want me “jetting off.” “Going to strange places.” “Stay closer to home” she’d say.

But maybe that “don’t go” attitude only applied to ME. Maybe her love for me simply outweighed the see-the-world zest for life and ambition she once had. Or the travel ambition she had for herself, or others.

The woman who taught me to get up & go. I like this photo of her. It really shows that spunk. That fun-loving side of a younger woman who toted kids around coast to coast, spun tires, played loud music and showed us how to “road trip.”


In recent years, she hated the thought of me going anywhere. It actually caused her great anxiety. So, it got to the point where I didn’t even tell her of my plans. I simply went where I wanted to go and told her about how wonderful it was, once I got back.

Despite attempts to sneak away, she would sometimes hear about my plans from my brother. I’d be off on a weekend adventure, like I was in Cleveland, and I’d get a text from her. “Hope you’re having fun in Cleveland.” I never knew how to take these messages. Was she busting me? Was she sincere…. as in “have fun dear.” Or was it sarcasm? Whatever the sentiment, it was moments like those, I’ll miss and cherish now.

Keeping tabs on me was her hobby. I’m sure of it! And further, she would report my every move to my Amma. (Icelandic for grandmother) I resisted, at times, feeling like the “Amma Squad” was a division of the FBI or something. I’m kidding, of course, I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I was just indulging my independence and free spirit. I am an adult, in every country on earth, with age and wisdom to spare, after all. Our game of travel cat and mouse, was a pretty typical mother-daughter thing, I’d say.

Her health challenges were what limited her travels ultimately. I don’t think she left Canada in the last decade. “No need for a passport” she’d say. I, on the other hand, applied for a passport as soon as cross-border travel required it and have been busy trying to get those pages stamped ever since. I really felt like my passport was an actual ticket to adventure.

I’ll get my wings back. I’m looking forward to 2017. I have to. I need to keep my chin up and eyes to the sky, take things one day at a time. It’s how I’ll cope with this incredible loss. And I do take comfort in the fact that she had her own travel aspirations and a spark inside her, like I do, to see the world and experience what it has to offer.

Do your photos reflect your memories?

The thing about travel photos is that they don’t tell the whole story. The true story gets muddled even further when those photos are prepped for Instagram. This isn’t a slam on Instagram, far from it. I think that global photos bring us a brighter more accurate picture of what the world has to offer. And it’s absolutely your choice to pick what you share with the world, and in what form

My point is this, are you tainting your own memories when you enhance or only share the perfect photos? I want to make my case by showing you a series of photos that I took at La Jolla Cove in San Diego, California.

I’m in love with this first photo. I think it’s spectacular. My money shot. But it doesn’t accurately reflect my experience.


This sweet baby was huddle in the centre of the pod.
This sweet baby was huddled in the centre of the pod. His eyes were open for mere seconds. Taken with my Canon 510s. This photo is completely unedited. I haven’t even cropped it, though I did consider cropping out the scar of the other seal in the right corner, however, I think it shows his age and life marks and they are an appropriate contrast to the seal pup.


Taking a step back, you see the whole pod of seals as they lay on the beach.

The photo was taken around 11am that day.
The photo was taken around 11am that day. Don’t they look peaceful and relaxed?


Let’s take one step further back. But still make sure the shot is tight and deliberately angled.

Here I am posing for a quick photo with my new friends. I love this picture. First time I've ever had the chance to pose with seals.
Here I am posing for a quick photo with my new friends. I love this picture. First time I’ve ever had the chance to pose with seals. (Unedited)


Same pod of seals, same beach, less than two minutes later than the above photos. Completely different picture of the experience, isn’t it?

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This one is taken from 4 paces back and a different angle, purposefully to show the crowd of visitors assembled. The seals are notable unhappy after a few folks got too close. Hipstamatic lens used to show the mood.


This last photo is shown from the viewing platform at street level, about 5 minutes after the first photo (of the baby) was taken.

Quite the group isn't it? On a Monday in January.
Quite the group isn’t it? On a Monday in January. Can you still see the seals in the centre?


My memory of this moment during the vacation, is of the big picture, the crowds and the whole perspective. However, I do still get lost in the moment of the baby seal and his soft eye when I look at it. An entirely different feeling about that day. And while I have already shared a couple of the seal photos on my Instagram feed, I have withheld the photos of the baby feeling that it was intimate and a real treasure, personal to my experience and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to share it with the world.

So, which picture is the “right” one to share?  What view of the scene do you relate to? Which of these pictures is the true reflection?

I’d love to hear your comments! Please share.