10 May 2003
The acid-laced paper is doing its work. We never knew about acid in paper eating the
color out of photographs, or the plastic sleeves we slipped our pictures into being bad
for them. But each time I go searching for a photo for "yesterday's photo," I
see how much deterioration there has been.
I've mentioned before that I am a scrapbooker. I was a scrapbooker before it was trendy
to be a scrapbooker. Now it's a whole blossoming industry. I received some junk mail today
for a scrapbooking book club where I can get two free books for joining. This has become
such a specialized field that there are books on paper techniques, toddler scrapbooking
(well, I don't need that any more), two books on "punch art" (my
kids were good at punching as kids...somehow I don't think that's what this is about), and
several books which tell you how to create a scrapbook journal (heh heh...I've gone them
one better with that!) There are folded memories and quilted memories and kaleidoscopic
memories. The list goes on and on.
I have been in the middle of a kind of a scrapbook project (along with everything else,
naturally--when did I ever do anything simple?). Not a book per se, but something
else, which I will probably talk about after it's no longer a secret. But it has involved
going through the myriad of old scrapbooks and photo albums that I already have and
choosing interesting photos for the project.
The one thing I've realized, as I get older and life goes on, is that all these
scrapbooks I've spent a lifetime lovingly creating and accumulating now bring me so little
pleasure. That's a terrible thing to say. They tell the story of my life, since I got my
first camera at age 10. I should be able to look back fondly at all the happy times
('cause you rarely take pictures of the sad times).
While I am for the most part a "glass half full" kinda person, where it comes
to the scrapbooks I realize I have become a "glass half empty" kinda person. I
guess it's too many people gone too unexpectedly from my life to be able to enjoy
remembering the fun times as fully as I used to.
This page, for
example, was one that absolutely tickled me to make. The photos were taken at my mother's
on a day when someone had a new car--Tom, I think. The boys all stood around, like men do,
admiring the motor. The thing is that, with the exception of Tom (who once built an entire
Toyota engine from the ground up--and it worked!), none of them knew a thing about
cars--Paul and I even had to scratch our heads one day trying to find out where to add a
quart of oil. But they were all pretending to be jocks and hamming it up for the camera. I
look at the page now, and it makes me sad to think that there will never be those carefree
times any more.
I also came across wonderful photos of my mother with her sister and remember the
wonderful fun we had with Barb (all of her sisters, but especially Barb, whom we saw the
most in later years). Barb is not gone, but her mind is. And her husband is. And I look at
the fun photos and it makes me sad to think how they left this life. One photo in
particular--my mother with her sister, now living with Alzheimers, my mother's husband,
who died of cancer, and my aunt's husband who died of heart problems. It hurts to see them
all so healthy and happy looking.
But I guess that's what getting older is all about. We can't take the people we love
throughout our life and drag them all into the present with us. Sooner or later it will be
their time to leave, and our job to stick around for awhile.
I am fortunate that there are also fun times in the present, most of those now in slide
show format, so neither faded photos, nor photos of people no longer here (I didn't start
making slide shows until after Paul died).
It still brings great joy to go back through the slide shows of Peggy's time here, for
example, especially as the time approaches when Thelma and Louise will take to the road
again and see if we can't terrorize another continent. I am hoping we can recreate the
same camaraderie that we had here, three years down the road.
There is joy in looking over the various biking adventures with Olivia and Haggie and
Terri, knowing that this is a road I am only beginning to travel, so there will be many
more adventures, and many more photos, and many more slide shows.
There is still joy in reliving the various trips that we have taken--to England, and
Scotland, for example.
I'm sure there is some wise philosophical message here, but I can't find one. I just
know that whenever I open a photo album from previous decades, I first smile at some of
the memories, and then I find I have to close the book(s) up soon because the more I go
trough them, the more I am transported back to a happier time, and the sadder it makes me
to know that that particular kind of happiness, at least, is now part of a different time.
If there is a "glass half full" part of all this, it is that life goes on,
people not only leave my life, but they also come into it as well. I'm an obsessive
chronicler of the events and happenings in my life. I don't know that they are really of
interest to anyone but me, but I don't see myself stopping in the foreseeable future.
However, I don't think I need any "how to" books to help me figure out how
best to do it.