Souvenirs

One of my favorite songs is “The Older I Get” by Alan Jackson. I love the line:

And I don’t mind all the lines from all the times I’ve laughed and cried; souvenirs and little signs of the life I’ve lived.

Alan Jackson, “The Older I Get”

This week my stepmother went to heaven. She is now “in my future” along with so many other loved ones who’ve gone before me. (https://alightformypath.com/2023/02/13/in-our-future/) She and her daughter have been a part of my life for 26 years. My parents had 40 years together before my mother died at 62 from metastatic breast cancer. A few years later my dad met a wonderful woman who did not try to fill my mother’s shoes, but who loved him in her own right, and he loved her back. She embraced his ready-made family and we welcomed her and our new sister into our lives. They made 16 years of memories for all of us until my dad also passed away. We’ve continued to love our blended family, celebrating milestones of children, grandchildren, and great-grands.

My step sister asked me to bring some family pictures with me to put on a table at the memorial service for her mother. To me, pictures are the best souvenirs I can have from any occasion. They immediately bring back memories of what we were doing, who was there, and amusing stories about something someone did. The stories often branch off into reminiscing about other people or occasions. As we get older, many of the people in the pictures are frozen in time. Memories are all we have of them. Which makes these souvenirs and memories even more precious.

The older I get the more of these souvenirs I get to accumulate. Yes, I’ve also accumulated gray hairs, some saggy skin, a thicker waist, and a preference for comfortable shoes. I treasure the pictures I have scattered about my house on tables and walls. Pictures that cover 8 generations of family members. Pictures of houses well lived in that no longer exist or have been remodeled to the point of being unrecognizable. Pictures that reflect new relationships that were forged and yes, some that fell apart.

It makes my husband uncomfortable when something makes me cry, which looking at old pictures often does. But, crying is just as much a part of living as laughing is. Crying might ruin my makeup. Laughing and smiling might eventually lead to creases or little lines around my eyes. But, it’s well worth the things my eyes have seen, the people I’ve loved, and the souvenirs I’ve collected over the years.


Laura

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