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Lifestyle ... Enrichment

Looking Through Old Photos

by Bob Lowry, Satifying Retirement

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 a hall closet filled with photo albums. Since a digital camera didn't replace our film cameras until 5 or 6 years ago there are a lot of memories in that space. If there were 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, carefully cataloged, and stuck in a closet only to be rarely 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 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. Looking again at the scenery brings back the sights, some of the friendly folks, and even some of the smells of those trips. 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 over 20 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 younger 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 in their mid 80's and declining. So, it is important to see them again 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 28 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 snow bank 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 the 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 four dogs. At the moment we are dog-less. The photos make me wonder about that situation. There is a freedom that comes without pets to care for. But, there is a hole that only a pet full of unconditional love can fill.

If you have time this weekend can I suggest you pull out your photos and look at them. All those memories and all those important time lines in your life aren't serving 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?

I'm glad I looked at some of the albums again. It helped remind me the pictures were taken to be looked at, not stored and ignored.

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Looking Through Old Photos