June 24, 2014
Posted by AmySanderMontanez at 8/21/2012 2:44 PM | Add Comment
Just before my mother died in 2001, she gave me a big plastic box filled with slides and pictures. She said there was no order to the pictures but she wanted someone to have them and to try to make some kind of order out of them. She elected me, mostly because I tend to be the family photographer and record keeper. Even if I don’t do a good job, I am interested in family history, story, and themes.
My dad’s 90th birthday is just around the corner. As part of the preparation for this special celebration, we are making a slide presentation showing highlights of his life. I remembered this box, dug it out of a closet, and decided to go through the photos. Two weekends and about twenty hours later, I had completed the task. I looked at over two-hundred slides and as many pictures. I categorized, sequenced, labeled and threw out. Adding my siblings donations to the pack, I sent it off to an in-law who has done the amazing job of uploading everything to his computer. After much editing, re-ordering, more throwing out and eventually adding music, the completed project will thrill my father and be a special memorial for all of us. From pictures of his immigration to the present day, we have a good sampling of the highlights of his life.
I don’t live with many regrets, but one regret I do have is not chronicling or archiving important events adequately. I have tried, at least with pictures, to keep photo albums in some semblance of order. Once everything went digital, I have done less well because it was a new skill that I had to learn, and even though it should be “easier” I have not done a good job of labeling files or uploading pictures off my camera and phone.
More than photographs, though, I have regretted not having records of things like family Christmas letters. A client told me that she has each year’s Christmas letter along with the family photo that accompanied it in an album. What a wonderful idea! What a beautiful record of family development and history.
My husband and I entertain a lot. I have recently been wishing that I had the menu and guest list from the wonderful evenings we have been honored to host. I would love to reminisce, to remember the company, the food, the wine, and maybe even the music. I would love to be able to re-create a menu, or make a variation on one. Fortunately, I have done this for the last ten New Year’s Eve celebrations that are a tradition for us. At least I have those.
I have done a terrible job of saving my past writings, sermons, speeches, and workshops. It seems that I just finished one and went on to another without much regard for the work I did. Maybe that is good. Not attaching too tightly is a good way to live. But there are times when I wished I had it all well chronicled and organized. I have cleaned up my computer and attempted to file and label things in a way that makes more sense. It has been worthwhile to do this, although I am aware that much has been lost.
I am not sure why all of this seems important right now, although I do think it is being spurred on by my father’s advancing age. I am feeling more of a need to see my own history. Perhaps it is because of my own middle age?
I am not a big fan of sentimentalism. I am hoping that is not what this is. It feels deeper than that, and more real. More like the desire to see the thread running through all things, the desire to see connections, commonalities, history, and purpose. I want to review where I have been in this life and what I have done so far. Perhaps I am looking for the thread.
I am curious. How do you, dear Reader, chronicle and archive things? Is it important to you? Do you see the thread running through your own life?
The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
~ William Stafford ~
(The Way It Is)
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