We Need to Talk About Pictures

February 12, 2014


"Scattered Crowd" by  William Forsythe

“Scattered Crowd” by William Forsythe

Before we moved, I maniacally cleared out, well, everything. If it wasn’t useful or extremely sentimental – and especially if I knew it had no place to GO, it was sold or donated.

We did a pretty good job. I brought one, small box of books, and one, small box of truly personal items. The kids had cleared out their toys and books and arrived here with what they needed, sans clutter.  There’s an old saying that there should always be an empty cabinet in a house, and, for the most part, everyone has that, in spades. So, gold star for everyone! What we face now is the remaining stuff – the stuff that lingers. Memories of people no longer here. Books. Way too many books. And pictures. Endless amounts of pictures.

Here’s the thing. When I was cleaning out this house, going through cabinets upon cabinets stuffed full of cards, and napkins, and pictures, and mementos, and everything else imaginable, it struck me that someone would be doing this (hopefully years from now) for MY things. Rifling through pictures of people the kids may never recognize, remnants of times that, upon my death, will have very little meaning, almost instantaneously. The things that are left behind are a trail, an insight, but a burden.

I don’t want that. For me – or anyone who has to deal with it after me.

I don’t want things sitting in boxes in the garage. If they are in the garage, they shouldn’t be kept. At some point, time has passed, and grief lessens, and wounds heal. So, I guess first we let go of the person, then we let go of all but the most important things.

It’s the pictures that are currently crushing me. There are easily six, crammed boxes of pictures – unorganized. Not kidding. And I don’t mean shoe boxes.  I know I don’t want them in the garage, but I don’t even know where to begin with this. I’m not sure what to keep and what not to. I could probably organize them after a time – but … putting them in albums? Does anyone do that anymore? What a herculean effort that will be.

If you have ideas, rules of thumb, or suggestions – I AM ALL EARS.

The lesson here to me, in the form of a two-by-four, is from now on… all pictures will be organized or labeled. Somehow.

The upside to this (because there always is an upside, right?) is that there ARE pictures. For all the digital-ness of today, looking through actual pictures is still meaningful. The kids still like it. I know there are pictures, never taken, that I wish I had, so maybe, in the end, this will be some sort of, I don’t know, gift?

We’ll go with that. We will slowly go with that.

(Send cookies.)

P.S. If you are itching for a few sneak peeks of rooms, you can find them on Instagram, along with other assorted shenanigans. I’m trying to shoot some actual pictures in the next few days. Stay tuned!


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4 Responses to “We Need to Talk About Pictures”

  1. elz Says:

    I was just thinking that the other day- how I don’t want somebody one day throwing out my memories. What I started to do is two fold- 1) I make photo books of the following-1) vacations, 2) each year, 3) Camp; 2) I order photos and put them in binder albums, sometimes with a note, but that’s it. Then, periodically, I update our hanging photos.

    • Pam Says:

      Ok. Come do this for me. 🙂

      And, yes, I now have all these portraits done yearssssss ago I have no desire to hang now. What do I do with THOSE??

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    I’m working with my grandmother on all of her pictures. We are sorting by : year, holiday/occasion, people. Trying to whittle it down and then we are scanning them and making books through shutterfly. I love the actual pictures but they are aging so much that I don’t want to risk losing the whole picture.

    Im actually doing a similar thing with Caroline’s pictures. I’m also taking pictures of the most special art she does to add that in to her books. That way I won’t be bogged down with art work over the years.

    Hope this helps! It take a while with all of the old pictures but once I started Caroline’s those go by fast.