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When Did I Do That?

The slushy aftereffects of the last snowfall still hid the yard in patches. The kids were in school, Steve was at work, I did not have class and my housework was done. This was golden time for me and I kept a running list of tasks in my head for opportunities like this to check them off.

For the first couple of years after the children came along, I kept the pictures we took and corner-glued them into books. After that, I lined them up in an old shoebox in the order we took them and most had a small date stamp on them already, so I knew I could put them back in order when I started the next album. I noticed that I needed to start a 3rd shoebox at Christmastime. I was behind and needed to work on it to catch up. I loved looking at the books to remember how the kids used to look at each age. I was included in some also, but not many. I did not like the way I looked in photos.

I pulled out the new photo book and box of corners and a dark marker to make notes under some photos. I realized that I couldn’t remember where we were in some earlier photos or who was in every picture and wanted to correct that moving forward. I thumbed through the photos and smiled at the changes I already noticed. Junior was way taller now and Daisy didn’t have that little Shirley Temple look any longer. Change occurs so gradually when you are living through each year and only accumulates in ways you can notice over time. As I placed each picture, I added a few notes about the place or the date if I could determine it and the names of anyone in the picture. I tried to print the details to make it legible. Time seemed to speed by as I wandered back in my memories. I envisioned a day in the future when my own children would look over these albums at their childhood. I couldn’t recall much of my own and there were very few pictures of me to help me remember. Parenting is a chance to make corrections. I wanted to improve specific wrongs from my childhood for my kids and I hoped they didn’t have too many complaints on me. I would never be the perfect mom, but I was pretty good.

When the kids came banging through the back door to take off their wet gear, I steered them to the kitchenette. I started to gather up the pictures but Daisy stopped to ask about one and Junior joined us in looking at pictures for a few minutes. Reluctantly, I gathered the rest up and returned them to the shoebox for another day of sorting. Daisy and Junior enjoyed looking over their own memories and laughed at how they looked while we ate our snack. After homework, dinner and bed, Steve asked about the shoeboxes and I shared what I was working on. Strangely, Steve had no idea that I had been keeping up with pictures and asked to look through the finished albums. Steve sat at the table with me looking at his past until we finally went to bed.

As he looked through the pictures, I heard him chuckle a few times. His reaction was a great incentive for me to keep up with our past more often. Time, even though it didn’t really exist, affected everything in life.

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