Yesterday I dove into the treasure trove of memories stored in the basement of the house that Jim built. One large box had been water damaged from a drippy faucet, and I’d never had the heart to go through the hodgepodge inside that pitiful box until yesterday.
I tossed old Memory Walk memos, agendas, brochures, and various papers from the years I coordinated the Sedalia Walk. I found two warped notebooks and sifted through the memories. One had photos front and back in the notebook’s protective cover sleeve. The photo on the front was ruined, but when I flipped the book over, I saw a perfectly preserved photo from a “Night to Remember Dance.”
My eyes blurred as I looked at a photo of Ted Distler and me dancing. Ted and I were friendly rivals. He coordinated the Jefferson City walk, and we always tried to out-do each other. The rivalry only spurred each of us to do our best. I attended his chicken dinner and auction, and he supported our dance and auction. It seemed there was always a gooseberry pie at both events and the winner was either him or me. Those pies were never cheap!
Another role Ted and I shared was that of caregiver. His lovely wife Norma was the center of his world and, is often the case, the disease took a terrible toll on both of them.
To say that Ted was my friend is an understatement. He was more like family. We would lose touch for a few months, but he’d call me or I would call him. Then, one day I received a call from the Alzheimer’s Association letting me know that Ted had passed away. Norma soon joined him.
Next, I pulled out a box of thank you notes. I opened the box and discovered a stack of photos. The one on top was a smiling Jim wearing a “Colby’s Grandpa” hat and holding our oldest grandson. I leafed through the photos—Jim in Estes Park and at an early Memory Walk.
I carried items upstairs, and when I went back down, I saw a red crate filled with photos that never made it to the photo albums. I opened an envelope and the first photo I saw was Jim playing his guitar. Easter photos taken two decades ago brought an avalanche of memories.
I found memories scattered in places they shouldn’t be. Why had I thrown this batch of pictures in a crate instead of putting them away in photo boxes or albums? My guess is that since most of these were taken around the time that life made a left turn, more pressing matters took priority.
This morning, I began the long organizational process by throwing away the extra envelopes and negatives. Next, I will try to put the envelopes in chronological order. I plan to throw away the out-of-focus photos and pictures of people I don’t know, or care to know, including people on stage in Branson.
Finding the old photos felt like finding a hidden treasure. I saw the innocent faces of children who are now adults with kids of their own. I saw the smiles of beloved family members who are long gone and felt the warm breath of their spirits. The real treasure trove, I realized, was the reminder that I’ve always been a link in a huge circle of love.
Copyright © January 2017 by L.S. Fisher