When one of my cousins on my dad’s side of the family sent a group email with a link to a video from his parents’ 1967 wedding, I looked for familiar relatives as I watched the video, which was only two minutes and 13 seconds long.
In the video, a brunette woman in a blue dress walks across the screen, looks at the camera, smiles and waves. Although I didn’t recognize her at first, once she smiled, I had to rewind. Was that my mom’s smile?!
It turns out that my dad wasn’t at the wedding, as he was in Seattle where he was going to school, but my mom was. They were dating at the time and she was walking toward my aunt and grandmother in the video. She was 22 years old and this wedding took place nearly two years before my arrival in the world.
In this short video, she’s one of only a few who acknowledged the camera’s presence and the only who waved while looking directly into the camera. Watching this wave from my living room in 2023 felt very surreal because she died in 1997.
Although I have seen a few black and white snapshots of my mom when she was younger, I don’t recall ever seeing a color video of her in her 20s or younger. In fact, I don’t have many photos of her at all, as she was usually the one behind the camera when my sister and I were growing up.
A couple of days before receiving the email with this video, I had been thinking about all the things my mom never got to experience. Not only did she never get to meet her son-in-law or grandchildren, but the world has changed so much since 1997, especially technology-wise. She never had an email address, searched the Internet or sent a text message. She never heard of Netflix, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, Google or social media.
Although she never knew about YouTube, she’s now part of it, waving from a wedding in 1967.
The morning after I received this email, I watched the video a few more times before logging into my work email.
The first email in my inbox was from a woman who has the same first name as my mom (Norma) and the first two words in her message were “Shalom, Leisah.” This added to the feeling that somehow my mom was reaching out and saying hello.
Thanks to my cousin Jon Novick for sharing this video!
This originally appeared on substack.