Memories

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In recent weeks I have picked up an unfinished project that has been waiting for me to return for more years than I even want to say. Perhaps you have some of those as well. I have had a growing desire to handle unfinished projects and restart the process of trying to complete this one.

 

Both of my parents died in 1995 just three months apart. To say it was a challenging year would be an understatement due to many other things related to that including my need to care for a younger adult brother with mental, emotional, and physical handicaps while handling care of my parents, visiting hospitals, and more.

 

It was my task to sort through the pieces of their lives left behind and dispose of their possessions and home while working full-time, caring for my brother, and handling roles of wife and mother (among others). The task I could not begin then was sorting all the photographs my parents had accumulated after nearly 56 years of marriage. I filled assorted boxes and bags with them and brought them home with a plan to handle that task “later.” I knew the volume of photos would make that difficult, but additionally many of the photos were not dated or marked to identify who was in the photo. (Some of you have been there and had similar tasks.)

 

The containers of photos were piled and stacked under a long narrow table behind the couch in our family room. I had no other place to put them and they were largely out of the way and out of my sight, but I knew I needed to sort through all of them.

 

albums-photo-albums-1717969Our daughter gave me a special photography album she called a “heritage album” to begin to place the photos and accompanying stories in sometime after that. I was still working full-time, but on several occasions we spent some time scrapbooking together to get started. There was never enough time to make much progress so all the photos and pages I completed would be restacked for another time and place.

 

When I retired five years ago, this project was one I said I would tackle. Sadly, it felt as overwhelming as it had at the outset and other projects that had been set aside and were easier got handled first. There was a nagging awareness, however, that I needed to return to this album project. For whatever things I didn’t know about the photos, I still knew more than my children or grandchildren about those in the photos and the stories these pictures conveyed.

 

A few weeks ago I unloaded all the boxes and began to reestablish whatever order I thought I had in mind. Scrapbooking tools and pages as well as all the photos remaining (most of them) got spread over beds in guest bedrooms as well as other assorted places I could find on furniture and the living room floor to try to find some sense in how to order them.

 

It was one thing to make some semblance of order to the photos, but another to try to determine the stories, the stories of my family that the photos told. My dad died first and he was the one who could have answered all of my questions with his love of dates and history.

 

As I dug in I started researching names online and seeking out information in the local album-antique-arrangement-699782library. There is some progress, but there are (as Robert Frost might say) “miles to go before I sleep.”

 

Working on this unfinished project has reminded me of the significance and value of memories. We hear a lot about that in an era where dementia and Alzheimer’s is ravaging the minds of so many and robbing those diagnosed of memories that also rob their families of them.

 

In Out of the Silent Planet C.S. Lewis wrote: A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered.”

 

Memories are fascinating things and may resemble a patchwork quilt of different pieces that can form a lovely pattern and yet not represent where each piece came from or its significance.

 

Memories (even those we believe are completely intact) are not truly movies showing everything without gaps. Our minds are amazing, but they do not work that way. Gaps can happen because we cannot capture all the information coming into our senses at one time as well as the emotional impact of what we are experiencing. Yet they seem to create a frame for our lives.

 

In Patty Callahan Henry’s newest book, The Favorite Daughter, she writes:

 

black-and-white-close-up-handwriting-2061915Memories are alive, and they can take over; they have their own life apart from us. But what are they really?

Just some amorphous, dreamy things that shift with time, almost like ghosts. Still they cause us pain or happiness or they keep us from doing things or cause us to shiver inside and wake us up in the middle of the night.”

 

God gave us the gift of memory and therein is a paradox since scripture sometimes admonishes us on the value of remembering and other times tells us not to remember.

 

One example in Deuteronomy 8:1-2 (NIV) serves as an example:

 

“Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.”

 

 Another is found in Paul’s writing to the church at Philippi:

 

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

 

The Lord is the one who can help us sift through memories and determine which are ones He would have us keep for our benefit and those we are to set aside. Only He knows those that serve us and his purposes well and produce wisdom, discernment, faith, and those that torment us and keep us stuck.

 

“Faith is a stalwart ship, carrying us through the gale, not destroyed by the ocean, but strengthened by it. Even the fiercest of life’s trials are no match for her sails. Trials pass like a storm. The day rises anew and we rise with the day.”

Lisa Wingate in Good Hope Road

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20 thoughts on “Memories

  1. Wow, this turned out to be a way different post than I thought it would be. Such great words of wisdom about the value of memories, but also putting them into perspective. I love that you are including stories. My mom and dad completed a book of stories a few years ago that will be cherished by children and grandchildren for years to come. Thanks so much for sharing at the Weekend Blog Hop at My Flagstaff Home. –Jennifer

    1. Now you make me curious about what you thought it would be. Care to share?

      Thanks for the kind comments and observations. Our children gave us blank books to write in years ago and I have done some in mine, but my husband really isn’t one to sit down and write his out (and his handwriting is not terrific). This comment reminds me to add some more to mine at least. Our daughter did and album for my hubby’s 60th birthday that tells a good bit of his story so that covers a good bit for him.

      Have a great weekend! 😊
      Pam in Ohio

  2. I have completed our family’s album for my parents wedding anniversary 10 years ago…

    But I too have 9 such ongoing projects to scrapbook albums for grandchildren, as well as for my husband & I, though I have had a rest over the last 12 months. As it all became too overwhelming. With a concentrated dash to finish my eldest granddaughter’s Grandie album for her 18th birthday a few years ago.
    Great post Pam! 😀
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

    1. Congratulations!!

      You are far more ambitious with the number of albums you have planned. I am plodding along with this one and looking at how the next one will continue the story of my parents with me during my childhood and beyond.

      I rarely print my digital photos now…not sure what that says for the future to pass along…most people seem to be in that same spot with photos since cameras went digital.

      Thanks for your sharing and kind words.

      Have a God-kissed weekend!
      Pam🌺

  3. What a monumental task, Pam. I can see why it may feel overwhelming at times. Still, I would guess it will also be very rewarding going through all those photos. It makes me a little sad that people don’t really make photo albums much any more. We have shelves of them at my house, but they are from years past. I can’t remember the last time I actually printed photos. Thank you for sharing your project on #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty.

    1. Early in my marriage, I had photos printed and put in albums; but the photos are not labeled as to who is in the pic or what the occasion was. They also didn’t get put on acid-free paper. Then I got behind and you’re right…for awhile now the photos I have taken are digital and I do not often print them. I wonder what that will mean in the future and what others in future generations will do.🤓

    1. Thank you, Linda! Yes, they wait and wait as they did in my parents’ home and before they handled them, the Lord called them home. I am hoping to at least get their generation done before that happens at my house.

  4. Our paths seem to run parallel Pam! I too recently brought out my photos and scrapbooking materials. Yet, still have to start as it can feel overwhelming. I’ve also begun to take more just people snapshots, rather than just sweeping landscapes. Maybe in the future we will get glimpses of your project!

    1. That’s fascinating! I realize I have run out of room to finish my parents’ story so will need another one to go through from my childhood till their deaths. Not sure if I can adequately capture the project in photos…we’ll see💕

  5. Pam, I love this post so much! I have dedicated my time this year for organizing my family history, and photos! It is such a task, one I have put off for years! I found you at the Heartsie Girls Wonderful Wednesday 162

    1. Thank you, Sylvia! I think a lot of us seem to be in the same boat. Can’t wait to see what you discover!🌻

  6. Oh, this brings up a lot of happiness and guilt for me. I have so many photos that I want to organize. But it does feel overwhelming. I need to make a better plan (although I currently have a plan; I’m just not executing it!). I’m glad you’re making good progress, Pam. What a gift this is, not only to yourself but to all your family!

    1. It seems a lot of us are in the same spot. You might enjoy knowing that the photo at the end of the post is of one of my husband’s grandmothers and her cousins. She is the one in the dark dress (third to the right) with a pocket watch affixed toward the left shoulder. She was a school teacher and we were left that watch and had it refurbished and gave it to our daughter a few years ago. (It’s beautiful!)

      I had a plan, but as you read…it took more than a little while to dig in. Now I am aware this first album is only the start and doesn’t go beyond my parents’ life before and after early marriage. I need another one to include the time of our family when I lived at home. Then tackling our own family…yikes!!!

      Went to the library and discovered the year the one room school where my dad and all his sibs attended and I attended grades 1-2 was built in 1828 and that one of my husband’s great great great grandfather’s fought in the Civil War.🌹

  7. I love this post so much–such beautiful and important things mentioned. It reminds me of a blog post I wrote on memories (with photos) a while back: https://lifetalesbooks.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-importance-of-memories-to-personal.html I’m glad you’ve made progress on the daunting task of photo organization and memory preserving. I had a similar experience when my mom passed away, though on a much smaller scale, and it turned out to be a healing and wonderful experience for me even though it was a ton of work. Pinning and Tweeting this lovely article. 🙂
    #wonderfulwednesdaybloghop

    1. Thank you so much, Jennifer! Thanks for the link❤️. It is indeed a daunting task. Our daughter reminded me a few years ago that if I didn’t get my parents done, when would I ever get our own? Thanks as well for the pin and tweet! Have a blessed day.🌺

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