Sunday, August 21, 2011

Keeping Up

A few months ago, my sisters and I sorted through the things my father saved for us in a big trunk. We made piles for the five of us. Report cards, letters, articles, scrapbooks. Drawings by our children. As we piled it all up, something became ridiculously apparent: My pile was very, very tall. And from there it became less and less until my youngest sister was able to fit hers in a large baggie.

Today I was looking for a photograph to post on Facebook of my daughter's birth thirty years ago. I pulled out her baby book. There were all the details of her length and weight, every present she received at every shower, her first words. All neatly gathered in the "Baby's Book." And I know that there isn't a book like that for my other daughters. There are photographs, lots of them, but the baby book went the way of time alone with my husband when the two of them came along.

I wish I had kept up my detailed record-keeping. Some people do (my sister is one) but I just let the time slip by without documenting the firsts and the dates.

I'm sure if I were to go back and look at my pictures, I'd find that there are many years when only a few photographs were taken. Important events like graduations and recitals got noticed, birthday parties and holidays were over-photographed. And there might be a few looks and attitudes, outfits and behaviors that are better off ignored through the camera lens.

I remember the over-arching themes of their lives and I've saved lots of artwork and a few report cards. I've got their letters and application letters and essays. Newspaper articles with their picture yellow in a cabinet. A few outfits remain in their drawers--t-shirts I think they'll want though they say they don't--clothes they'll eventually have to go through and decide about. Baby quilts and cross-stitched nursery rhymes are stacked in the closet.

There will be more than enough for them to go through. I just wish there was more. Our memories are short, and we are short-sighted about what we'll want to remember.

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