A Whole Life in 100 Pictures or Less

On October 4, 2019, our family said goodbye to my dear grandmother. She was 89 years young and had lived a long and full life.

But this post is not about her. Not really.

You see, in the days leading up to the funeral, the family got together to select photographs from her life to put in a slideshow that would be playing during visitation. We had a limit of 100-125 photographs.

My grandmother had 11 siblings, 5 children, 9 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren. Can you imagine the hundreds (if not thousands) of photographs that exist with her in them? It seemed like a monumental task going through everyone’s favorite pictures and trying to include everyone while also showing pictures that spanned her whole life.

How do you show an entire life in 100 pictures?

As we finished up, as pleased as we could be with our choices, I could not help but reflect on the fact that we had tried to sum up her whole life in 100 pictures.

Today, we take pictures constantly. It’s estimated that we take more pictures every two minutes than even were in existence 150 years ago so it seems that narrowing down our lives to 100 pictures will be quite a task.

But still, it made me think about my priorities. If my entire life would be shown in 100 pictures, what would make the cut? I know that death does this – makes us consider our own mortality. However, who is going to be in those 100 photographs? What would I be doing in those pictures? Who would I be with?

When my grandmother was younger, she was a working mama. She worked at a clothing store and styled the mannequins; she later owned an antique store. Out of her 100 pictures, only 1 picture was included that showed her at work.

My favorite picture of my grandmother. She was wearing her first store-bought dress. (This picture didn’t make the cut.)

The pictures chosen showed times spent with family and with friends. Times traveling and celebrating new life with new babies. I realize that we made a “highlight reel” of her life. It doesn’t include photos of hard financial times or emotional distress or family feuds. And while all of those things definitely happened in her life, I do not think that the memories we shared presented a false image of my grandmother. It was authentic and true. She was, first and foremost, a praying woman and she was a family matriarch. The pictures showed her as the family-loving woman we all knew.

In the end, all I want is to think about my own highlight reel of 100 pictures. I want the people who would make the cut to know, to never question or doubt, but to know how much I love them. I want as much time as possible spent with those I love the most. In the end, if all I get is 100 pictures, 100 memories…I hope I made the right ones. That I remember to cherish those who would be in the photos with me. This is my goal: to live my life in such a way that the highlight reel is honest and true.

Sarah Vorhies is a self-proclaimed foodie who has been married to her husband Justin for ten years. Sarah and Justin have two beautiful children, Lillian and Judah. Sarah stayed close to home and got her degree in English Education from Southeastern Louisiana University. She can honestly say she is never bored thanks to one of the most fun jobs ever - teaching 11th grade American Literature. She enjoys traveling, reading, finding new recipes on Pinterest, and spending quality time with her family.

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