August 30, 2019

A Closet Full of Memories


I bet you have a bunch of old photos stored away in boxes or drawers somewhere in your home. We certainly do. In our case it is an office closet filled with photo albums. Since a digital camera didn't replace our film cameras until 15 years ago, there are a lot of memories in that space. If there was ever a fire I'm not sure if my wife would grab me or some of the pictures first. They are important reminders of the journey we have been on together.

Like many people, the pictures were taken and stuck in a closet or some empty shoe boxes rarely to be looked at again. The change to digital means these old photographs are often too much trouble to haul out, and that's too bad. There is a lot more than old photographs in that closet.

Places I'd forgotten I'd been. We have been lucky to travel rather extensively in the United States, and visit several countries in Europe. I was looking over the album titles last week and realized all the places we visited that I had forgotten about. Fall foliage in upstate New York,  the pink beaches of Bermuda, a cute B&B outside Salt Lake City, the horse country of northern Florida, a castle in the lakes district of England and The Quiet Man setting near Kong, Ireland. Looking again at the scenery brings back the sights, some of the friendly folks, and lasting memories. It felt good to look back and remember.  

Places that were an important part of our family life. We had a few time share condos near Sarasota, Florida that were the center of family summer vacations for almost twenty years. To look at the girls from our first visit with their grandparents, to our last when they were grown up is a rather vivid reminder of how fast life passes by. The 2 Christmas vacations we spent on Maui don't seem like almost 30 years ago, but they were. The pictures bring back all the details that made those trips so special. There is some sadness in the process, but overwhelming pleasure at seeing the joy on those young faces again.

How fast time goes. When were my wife and I ever that young? Why did I wear my hair in that silly, uncombed mop? Whatever happened to all the people in those photos that left our life when we moved? Is that renovation we made to the first house in Cedar Rapids still there? Old pictures allow you to relive fabulous memories. But, each page you turn in the album is like a ticking clock. It is important to remember that each moment captured in that particular photo will never be repeated. Today will never come again. Time is too valuable to not squeeze the most out of every minute. The photos make that time passage very real.

Remember when parents were with us and vital. I have written a few posts about the difficulty of watching loved ones age and decline. Our photo closet is full of visual reminders. My wife's parents have both died, so our memories of them are fixed in pictures when they were playing with our girls, or enjoying themselves at our various homes. My parents are both gone, too. It is important to see them when they were active and physically fit, joining us at the beach, our cabin in the woods, or Disneyworld. It is good to see them walking together, holding hands, in the woods of northern Arizona, without a care in the world.

Winter....Ugh! After 35 years in Arizona I could never go back to where I grew up. Pictures of me shoveling snow off the roof of our home in Iowa, trying to find my car in a snowbank in Syracuse, or shivering in cold rain in Boston are stark reminders of my dislike of cold and snowy weather. But, I lived in that climate for my first 30 years so it was important in my life. Looking at some of the pictures reminds me of why I don't live there now!

Dogs were a big part of my life. I had forgotten how much pets were part of my life until just a few years ago. I grew up with dogs in the house. During our married life we have had five dogs. Each one of them is memorialized in the photo albums. There are loving memories and lots of smiles as we remember the unconditional love each one gave us.



If you have some time this weekend can I suggest you pull out your photos and look at them. All those memories and all those important timelines in your life aren't doing any good locked away. Some of the memories will be bitter sweet and some bring tears to your eyes. Isn't that the reason you took them all those years ago?

25 comments:

  1. We have been looking at old photos with Mom. Amazingly she remembers, in detail, about half of them. The others (often pictures of my sister or me) could be just random pictures of anyone to her

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is sad. I hope you are remembering better times as you show the photos to mom.

      Delete
  2. I've been scanning some of the old photos from my husband's side of the family (early 1900s) and putting them on Facebook in an effort to find them new homes. It's been very successful with more takers than photos. A lot of work and postage but I hate throwing family history away.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is an interesting idea. Are you sending the originals or the scanned digital copies? If the latter, they could be attached to an email or uploaded as an album. Still, lots of work.

      Delete
    2. I'm sending the originals. When more than one person wants a photo I've been giving it to the oldest person but anyone else can just save the photo to their computer and send the digital to a photo lab for a print.

      Delete
  3. We've lived in eleven towns/cities, and in some multiple places within some of those. I think we're done now! lol!
    b

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Probably 50% of the original photos in all those massive albums are of landscapes and places. They don't really bring back memories. I'd like to just save enough picture of people and places to represent a trip, and dispose of the rest.

      Delete
  4. I love going through old pics, and I often search for just the right one when a loved one has a birthday and I can post it on FB. They generally get a lot of laughs and likes. My brother says my photo archives are "formidable". :-) I've also gone through them and made a photo album with pics for each of my kids for Christmas one year. They all loved them.

    Agree that it's wonderful to relive times and places we may have forgotten or just enjoy looking back at. I do have a small stack of pics that still need sorting. Good activity for a rainy day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If we only had a small stack, I'd be happy! The last time Betty's brother and sister-in-law visited they spent hours going through photos and telling stories.

      Delete
  5. Some years back, I pulled out all the old photos. I enjoyed looking at them, and then I threw out all the bagloads of photos that would not mean anything to my kids. I kept all the family photos, and some photos of me on some of my travels that they might enjoy. But the ones that were only meaningful to me were enjoyed one last time and released.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would be my preference. Scan the ones that really mean something to the family or us, and let the rest go.

      At some point that will have to happen, anyway. Retirement housing won't have space for everything in Betty's closet.

      Delete
  6. Before we downsized 7 years ago I had scanned and discarded most of the photos from years past. I did keep the small box of black and white that came from my mother, but they are scanned as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Last year we purchased a scanner especially made for photos. Not only can it scan a photo in under 3 seconds, but it restores all the original colors that faded with the years.

      It is amazing piece of technology. Now, we just have to set aside the time to use it.

      Delete
    2. That sounds like an amazing piece of equipment. Are you willing to share what kind it is? We scanned a ton of pics for my mom's 80th and being able to restore faded pics would be awesome.

      Delete
    3. Epson's FastFoto scanner. One of the settings enables the amazing retouching technology that brings back a completely faded photo to its original color.

      Delete
  7. Well written and very enjoyable reading, Bob. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My husband has been going through tubs of old pictures. We bought an album so he could make them easier to look at. I need to go through my pre-digital camera photos as well. I do have them organized chronologically but there are some stragglers. I also have a photo scanner which I love. I only use it when I have print photos I want to use in a Shutterfly album. The thought of scanning all my pictures is too daunting!! My sister had a DVD made with old slides my parents have. Now that was fun to watch!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have thousands of pre-digital photos. The FastFoto machine works wonders.

      Delete
  9. Great post! I've been thru all our albums and have discarded hundreds of photos that were of landscapes. A saguaro in Tucson, a mountain in Utah etc. Also hundreds of duplicate pictures. KonMari has some good tips on what photos to keep. I also have marked in our emergency exit box ( in case of fire or whatever) grab the photo boxes. I tried scanning but I think the scanner I was using wasn't user friendly and I finally gave it to Goodwill. I may look into the one you mentioned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is not cheap but works quickly and well.

      I agree..if I want pretty landscape pictures I will look online, not at a palm tree in a 30 year old analog version.

      Delete
  10. One of my most cherished possessions is the family photo album that captures my - and my brothers' - childhood from the 50s until about the 70s. I also have some random photos of my parents when they were young that aren't in an album but I still love to look at now and then. Unfortunately, there aren't any kids in our family so I'm not sure who will want these photos when we are gone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our kids have already told us they want very few of the thousands of old photos. If we don't get rid of them we will just be leaving them with a big chore.

      Delete
  11. When my parents were downsizing from a single-family home to a mobile home in a retirement community, my mother made each of her five children a photo album of photos that documented that child's life from infancy to adulthood. I treasure that photo album and look at it often.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have one album for each girl, too, but they need to be digitized to bring back their color.

      That was a beautiful gift from your mom.

      Delete

Inappropriate comments will be deleted