Thursday, November 15, 2007

Never Doubt Dad!

My Family
Dad, Lou, Kay, Me, Donna,and Lowell
(You can doubleclick for a larger picture.)

At Dad's request, my two sisters and my brother and I spent yesterday in Archbold, Ohio looking at old photos. (My stepmom, Kay, and niece, Katie--the photographer, joined us as well for this historic event.) My Dad wanted to supervise this gathering because he wanted us all to look at his pictures at the same time and decide which of us would get to keep each picture so that there would be no arguing over photos (presumably at his death—which does not seem imminent but could happen—to any of us—at any time). I personally could not believe that any of us would go to combat over old photos but nonetheless, Dad was concerned and so we wanted to respect his wishes. I can't say that I was overjoyed at the prospect of looking at photos for a whole day. Before the digital picture revolution, our family like most families believed every picture was an heirloom photograph and should never be desecrated or destroyed—(except of course, my mother thought it was totally permissible to cut herself out of pictures. To this day, I also feel entitled to that matriarchal editing although now I tend to slightly alter the picture in Photoshop rather than take the scissors to the photos.) I was concerned that the task before us could take days if not weeks. However, I was excited at the thought of us spending time together—just the siblings and Dad—something that perhaps we had not done since about 1961.

After input and suggestions from all of us but Lou—who says she is not technical—as if the rest of us are—on how to run a slide projector, we got off to a worrisome slow start. First were slides of Mom and Dad's Hawaii vacation with a random smattering of slides shuffled in of various weddings and Mom and Dad's trip to Haiti to visit Donna when she was a missionary. We stared at blurry pictures trying to recognize relatives by the shapes of legs or other body parts or who would wear that kind of outfit. We guessed at what island they were on and what volcano was in the picture. We studied the backs of people's heads to see who was watching the fire dancers in Hawaii in 1970. We looked at slides of people that we did not know and wondered if we should know them or if there was any good reason that we should keep their photo slide and then made logical guesses of who they could possibly be. I began a list with each of our four names and wrote slide numbers that Lowell called out for who would receive each slide. We recognized my mother in many pictures by the checkered dress that she was wearing and soon realized we could each have as many mementos of her in that dress as we liked. Having Lowell control the clicker soon proved brilliant from my perspective because his attention span is as limited as mine. It did not take us long to change the plan to who would get each carousel slide tray rather than who would get each individual slide. We also lamented that most of us no longer own a slide projector so weren't sure how we would look at the carousels that we kept but agreed to pass around and share the projectors that were available. Hmmm. . . right.

By the time our delicious lunch was consumed (prepared by Lowell and Kay with input from Lou and Donna—sadly I had nothing to contribute again. I could have stopped and picked something up to go with their homemade soups, sandwiches and desserts but I just didn't get the memo in time.) — anyhow as I was saying, after lunch we were ready to move on to photo books and envelopes. And something happened. I got into it. I guess I was overcome by the spirit of the day! I started thinking, "What a hoot! (That is my friend Ellie’s term.) These pictures are priceless. The rest of the family has to see this one and this one and this one." Before I could control myself, I was snarfing up pictures with the promise of scanning them and returning them to the rightful families later. I came home with a carful of photos and a big scanning project that I promised to finish before Christmas. Wow, Dad, you were right again. Why do I ever doubt you! Thanks for a great day!

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