Mementos

Not long ago,

my father sold his summer home of thirty years.

The large, rambling seaside abode

witnessed fourth of July fireworks,

games of flashlight tag, barbecues and bonfires.

My father called to say five or six boxes

were headed my way.

You see, reader, I collect memories,

family moments documented

in sepia or engraved on old debate trophies.

When the boxes arrived,

I peeled open the cardboard shell

to reveal a lifetime’s worth of gold.

There is my great uncle Nate, 1942,

clad in WWII Marine khakis on Oahu just after Pearl Harbor,

the rifle in his hands

incongruent with the waving palm trees;

my young law clerk father, 1959,

beaming along side Chief Justice Earl Warren;

my mother, 1966, impossibly beautiful,

resting on Cape Cod’s sandy shore.

This summer, I will revisit each moment,

jotting notes for my son and future generations

before the images no longer represent reminiscence,

but rather hold strangers.

Memories are ephemeral.

We must capture them while we can.

8 thoughts on “Mementos

  1. I enjoyed reading your post and hearing that you treasure the photographs. (I wrote a post today about clinging to photographs, but from a completely different perspective.) It’s refreshing to hear that you savor the memories.

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  2. Many years ago I took digital photos of old photos belonging to y husband’s uncle. The photographs are as beautiful as ever. But the digital copies I shared with many of his cousins. They were so pleased. I have digital copies of my father’s photo collection too. Thank you for sharing your feelings.

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  3. Love that you take the time to sort and document this past. I have a cousin who does the same. My heart is there but I have not followed through with actions. So many photos to sort and name. Good Luck this summer as you dive into the past.

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  4. I love so many of your descriptions in the post, including the activities that took place at the summer house and the photographs. You really bring them to life! What a great idea to write about them and preserve the past. It will be a precious gift for your family in the future.

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  5. What a lovely post. Were you sad? It seems such a loss to give up a house of such beauty and memories. I don’t look forward to that happening with my childhood home but it’s coming. You capture the sanctity of your memories so perfectly and in the end, they are untouchable because they are part of who you are, remembered or not. Thank you for such a heartfelt piece.

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  6. What a beautiful post about literal memories arriving in a box, like a gift from the past that you will pass on to the future.

    This line brings tears to my eyes, “my mother, 1966, impossibly beautiful, resting on Cape Cod’s sandy shore.”

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  7. This is a beautifully written slice of life poem with an important message. Our memories are fleeting. The only way to pass those special, important moments onto the next generation is to write them down. I’m delighted to know that you’re going to do just that in the months ahead.

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  8. You have set a summer writing goal through this slice. So excited for your son and future generations to have these memories documented. I love how you describe this process:
    before the images no longer represent reminiscence,/but rather hold strangers.
    Memories are ephemeral./ We must capture them while we can.
    Such important writing work!

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