Whenever there is a natural disaster, and the news crews show people evacuating their homes, what are they carrying with them - aside from children and pets, of course?
Pictures - boxes and boxes of pictures. Nowadays it's all digital, easy to store thousands of memories and carry them around on your laptop. But the old photos are a different story.
In addition to the thousands of pictures stored on our computer, we have an entire closet devoted to photo albums that predate the age of computers and digital photography. Someday, I often say, I will scan the photos that mean the most to me and preserve them the new and modern way.
But I will never destroy those old photographs. It is an amazing thing to hold in my hands an ancient picture of some ancestor of mine whom I never met - some long lost great grandparent.
It is even more overwhelming to take out the pictures that show my mother as a beautiful young woman, long before my time, and my handsome young father, looking a little uncharacteristically ill-tempered at having been awakened for a photo when he was trying to get some sleep before his night shift at the paper mill in the days before he took up his life long profession as a bartender (which is the way I always saw him - dapper and charming in a white shirt and tie, serving drinks and charm in equal measure at Goodfellows or The Red Brick).
Fast forward through my youth - awkward pictures from grade school and Junior High - followed by those beautifully dated high school pictures - that make me ache with nostalgia for those wonderful, lost times.
Then suddenly - here I am as a mom with my breathtakingly beautiful baby girl and the photos that show the years racing by until she is out of high school, off to college, on to her own life.
And now I am looking back over 37 years spent with the love of my life - my husband Ingolf - here are the photos of us as friends, then lovers, on the bluff in Santa Monica, on a beach, on family holidays with my daughter and our parents.
Here we are on a houseboat in The California Delta - sometimes just us - sometimes accompanied by our parents. And always , somewhere in the pictures are our dogs - those who passed over the Rainbow Bridge long ago.
Looking at pictures takes me back to the days when, every summer, we would pack up our car and drive cross-country, again accompanied by a changing parade of dogs, to Wisconsin where we would settle in at my mom and her husband's wonderful home on the shore of the Peshtigo River - sleeping on the porch, driving in to Marinette to eat those incredible Mickey-Lu burgers - Friday night fish fries at a variety of places like The Pines - long gone - and Shaffer Park Supper Club - another place that no longer exists - except in our pictures.
My father who raised me and who was everything a father should be, my mother, her husbands, my husband's father - all gone now - except for their faces in those fading photographs.
Here we all are - sitting around a table on a houseboat - laughing together. It's easy to forget the little spats and disagreements. Or remembering, we laugh about those things - they fade into insignificance.
Here's to non digital photos and family albums - sit down with the ones you love who are still with you and share some memories.
For anyone who's interested - and I don't know who would be outside of the family - here's a little album from The Delta.