the news concerning the fires in Los Angeles I notice that the most common item
taken by residents fleeing their burning houses is their family photographs. I
suppose there is some part of us deeply imbedded in our physic that wants to hold
onto reminders of our past as well as the past of our ancestors. We keep these
things near and dear to or hearts. When you hear someone describe the loss of
their home, they almost always mention the loss of the family pictures. The rest
of the things donít seem to compare in value.
In my house this is an on
going issue. When we moved earlier this year, we were forced to confront ourselves
with the fact that we have five or six book box sized cartons of photographs of
our family which we have kept over the past forty years. We have slides, Polaroids,
black and white photographs, photos on cdís, and digital images to contend with.
Early in our married life we put photographs in albums, but gave up at some point
in time, Iím not certain I know why. Maybe we were too busy living the dream.
The problem we now face is this overabundance of photographs throughout the years.
Each fall I vow to get those boxes out and start to sort them into some kind of
order so that they will make some sense. Some sense to whom has never been determined,
but for some reason it seems to be important to me. Not so for my wife.
I never finish, in fact I seldom even get started, since I stop to think about
when and where each set were taken and either get sentimental of tickled about
whatever we were doing at the time. Either one of these disrupts my progress and
leads me to cease my activity and lug the boxes back to the closet where they
will sit again for another year or so. The whole process seems to be overwhelming
as all of the boxes are filled to the brim with memories of years gone by, and
in no certain order. Notice I saidÖno certain order. This results in my looking
at pictures of my kids in diapers and then opening up the next set of them at
college. It is more than the mind can comprehend at one time. Kind of like trying
to see the entire Smithsonian in one day.
A lot of my pictures are of
family members that I donít know or recognize since they were taken so long ago.
In fact they may not even be members of my family for all I know. If youíre like
me, you tend to hang onto pictures forever. I suppose when we die these never
get sorted out or thrown away but just passed onto some surviving family member.
Iíve got pictures of people that I am totally clueless about but am loath to throw
away for some reason or another. It just doesnít seem to be the right thing to
do. I guess Iím hoping someone in my family will step up to the plate and tell
me who these people are. Not that there is anyone left to tell me since most everyone
has died out by now. If that isnít possible then I feel certain those five or
six boxes that I have now (as well as the one or two more I may generate before
I pass on) will get passed along to my four sons who will leave them in the boxes
for the next forty or fifty years and then try to figure out the same thing. Who
the heck are those people? They wonít know, but will tell their wives that this
is just part of the family history. She brings hers as well and those get mixed
in with his, further adding to the confusion of future generations. This will
get very confusing to those living a couple of hundred years from now.
kind of reminds me of those huge collections of National Geographic. Everyone
seems to have a bunch of them. We all intend to go back and re-read every word
but we never seem to get enough time to do so. Therefore they sit on the shelves
in our houses and get passed along from one generation to another.
good thing to notice is the fact that with the advent of the digital age, all
of these pictures can be compressed and saved in much smaller spaces. Perhaps
my kids will only end up with one or two boxes by the time they get old. Probably
© Peary Perry
Comments go to email@example.com
From North America - September 2, 2009 column
in 80 newspapers
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