Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Photographs and Memories

I want to thank all of you who left comments Sunday night, or who just quietly sent a prayer or a good thought. 

My mom passed away quietly in her sleep at home early Sunday morning, as best as we know.  She went into hospice care for Multiple Myeloma three months ago, virtually to the day, and went home for the last time in mid-September.  Mom just turned 91 a month ago, so it may seem strange to assign a cause of death, but when she was diagnosed, they said she was too weak for chemotherapy or other treatments except for palliative care.  When her weekend aide came to see her at 9 AM, she was unresponsive. 

My dad preceded her by 31 years: 1982.  He also died of MM, almost certainly coincidence as there are no known ways of it being contagious.  It has only recently struck me how young she was when he died.  31 years ago she was 60, and now that age is so close it's virtually here.  She never wanted to date again, never really wanted to leave the house.  She seemed to draw the curtains tight around herself and just want to stay in by herself.  We visited regularly for at least a decade, less so in the last ten years.  Back in '03, around the time of the Shuttle Columbia disaster, she fell and hurt herself (which was to become a recurring theme).  After a few visits she told us to bug off, in so many words, saying, "look, it's not like I'm gonna die any day now, you don't have to keep coming down". 

So we started going through photographs she had put aside in drawers everywhere and all the memories in the house.  They moved into that house in 1974, not too long after I had moved out on my own for the first time.  Brother's and my first jr. high wood shop projects.  Ceramics.  There are some modeling clay figures dad made... in the late 1970s?  It seems she slowly distributed the things she wanted to go to specific people.  It's not much of an "estate", but it's a tribute to dad that he set her up so well she could go 31 years on it, with the medical expenses and everything else, and still have a little left over. 

I came across this picture: mom as little girl with her mother.  I'm guessing 1930-ish.  Grandma passed away in 1979. 
Photography that gave paper prints wasn't around very long when some of these pictures were taken, and the pictures were clearly treasured.  Those old monochrome or sepia prints lasted indefinitely in a dark drawer.  Today, color prints barely last a decade.  Anything digital will likely evaporate, the bits will decay or (more likely) become an unreadable format in 20 years.  These memories are special.


  1. Yes, those memories are special. Beautiful post.
    Prayers for you and your family.

  2. My deepest condolences to you and your family.

  3. I am truly sorry to hear of your Mother's passing. I hope you are comforted in the days to come by the family and friends which surround you.

    Steamer sends....

  4. May she rest in peace, and be reunited with your father: and may you and yours be comforted.

  5. She is in a far better place, now. May God's healing and comforting oil anoint you and your family.

  6. We must be of an age ... and the same happened earlier this year - same manner (a blessing really), different cause. The last year or so were also similar to as you describe.

    I guess we're truly "grown-up" now ...

    My home is now full of "this isn't my stuff". Christmas will be strange this year.
    I can only commiserate with you

  7. My parents passed away in the 80's. I inherited all the epictures and albums. I saw most of these pictures growing up and since I was still working I didn't have much time to look through them and put them away. When I retired in 1999 I found myself with lots of time and copied every picture to my computer. This made it easy to catorgorize and label them. But it brought up many mysteries, people looking back at me in sepia and black and white and just things I couldn't explain. Many questions were answered by relatives and research but some mysteries still remain. I also discovered something I would never have thought of. Years ago everyone took their film to the drugstore to get them developed with one printed picture per negative. BUT not every picture made it into an album or a shoebox to my hands. Many pictures were given to friends and relatives. Of course! When you think about it that was logical. But those missing pictures were often the best that's why they were given away because someone valued them. So I began searching through al the negatives. Honestly it's difficult to tell when you look at a black and white negative who or what it is. I printed many, used software to copy reverse images to the computer and discovered many treasures and many more mysteries. But this I know for sure, if you will take the time to look through the negatives and print the most promising ones you will discover many things you didn't know. Gold is where you find it but the family treasures are in the unprinted negatives.

  8. My condolences. Be comforted by the remembrances, a new position in life for you & yours.


  9. You have my heartfelt sympathies. Your writing evokes remembrance of one memory I treasure of the unrecognized "accomplishments" of the greatest generation. That is when you say " It's not much of an "estate", but it's a tribute to dad that he set her up so well she could go 31 years on it, with the medical expenses and everything else, and still have a little left over."

    My Dad did a twenty plus year Army career including a tour in Vietnam. Frugal habits while raising five children allowed them to invest in a home and have it paid off so that when he passed, my mom was able to live there and on his benefits for another twenty six years until her passing. It may sound like I am giving him all the credit but I assure you I recognize her contributions as well because being an Army wife and traveling so much was not easy. But the accomplishment to me was that they were able to accumulate real wealth compared to today where I find myself amazed at what they accomplished. Tough to do in today's world, economy and leverage mentality of gotta have it today and pay it off later credit that rules. Sorry for your loss.

  10. I'm so sorry for your loss. We'll be keeping you and yours in our prayers.

  11. Thank you all for kind comments, prayers and excellent perspectives.