Fall is a time to sort through the photographs

Published 9:07 am Monday, September 27, 2010

Julie Seedorf, Something About Nothing

Sort, sort, sort, throw, throw, throw, keep, keep and keep. Categories: husband’s family, my family, our family, kids and grandkids. You get the picture? I mean that literally. I have sorted through every picture in every box in my home as part of my organizing.

Julie Seedorf

I take a lot of pictures. My mother’s and father’s family took many pictures. My mother took a lot of pictures and I have inherited all of them. These pictures were stuck under my window seat, in my downstairs closet, my upstairs closet, my old trunks and whatever drawer I seemed to be standing by when I finished looking at my pictures.

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I do have some photo albums. They are nicely arranged on my shelves. I also have some photo albums that are empty and waiting for memories to grace their pages. The last time I did some scrapbooking was five years ago when my ankle was broken and I was confined to the couch. While I was a couch potato a wonderful cousin sent me a huge box of Creative Memories materials so I could accomplish something besides counting the threads in my couch cushions.

It has bothered me that all of these boxes of beautiful memories have sat collecting dust. It has bothered me that when someone asked me for a picture of a deceased uncle that I could not find one. Sorting pictures has been on my “to do” list forever.

Recently I pulled out all the boxes, all the trunks and searched all the drawers and placed the pictures in my dining room. Box by box I sorted those pictures into family groups and labeled the boxes. It was a good feeling. The boxes are not stored in my closet in one place.

The first phase of the sorting is done. It took me longer than I expected. It took me two weekend days and a couple of hours after work each night. Yes I had many pictures but it was the memories those pictures evoked that took such a large amount of time.

I looked into the faces of my uncles and my mom and my dad when they were the same age as my children, and I saw mischief and joy in their expressions. Their faces told a story of early years before they became the responsible adults that I knew as a child. I saw them through the window glass of time. I looked at them not as the child I was when they were alive but as the adult wishing I would have known them as they played baseball and fell in love or journeyed to faraway places as they sought employment. I could see the ladies man look in my uncles’ eyes. I wanted to talk to their girlfriends and watch them play ball and know what they thought about politics.

I journeyed through my life as a child, and as a teenager. I relived times with old friends that are no longer with us. I looked up old friends and reminisced when I found their pictures. I journeyed through my married life as I looked at our wedding photos and the photos of my children as they were growing and becoming who they are today. I have to admit I shed a few tears along the way while I was going back in time.

Why did I take photos if I were going to ignore them and throw them into boxes and trunks and drawers? Many of the old pictures were not labeled and so I would wonder who was that pretty woman with my father-in-law? Who are these stoic people in wedding garb? A while back I sold some of these stoic people in wedding garb on EBay because I had no idea who they were and I could not throw away such beautiful pictures.

Today we have digital photo’s and our computers hard drives and flash drives and other storage devices are full of these precious photos. Software arranges these photos into folders so we know where they are unless …unless … your hard drive dies and you didn’t have them backed up. I have gathered buckets of tears from people who have lost their precious pictures on their computer that were not backed up. Not backing up the precious pictures is the same as what I have done, ignoring them in boxes and drawers. Wait! I don’t have my pictures backed up either so I am still throwing them in drawers, my computer drawers. I see my next project waiting for me.

Yes, my pictures are still in boxes but they are semi organized so this winter I can continue on to the next step which is sorting by occasions and putting them into order in albums where they can be easily viewed by whoever is interested.

I am looking forward to that next step and again reliving the journey of my life and the lives of those people that I love. I wonder what I will see in their faces the second time around.

“You are not the child of the people you call mother and father, but their fellow-adventurer on a bright journey to understand the things that are.” — Richard Bach

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send e-mail to her at thecolumn@bevcomm.net. Her blog is paringdown.wordpress.com. Listen to KBEW AM radio 1:30 p.m. Sundays for “Something About Nothing.”