Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Reflecting on family

A couple things have happened recently. One is that one of my aunts died recently, (mentioned here) and we're going to a celebration of her life next weekend. It's going to be really good to see some cousins I haven't seen in quite some time. Like decades. Celina's favourite human will be here taking care of her.

The other is a surprise package from my mom. She recently moved from her home of many years into an assisted living facility. The package was a bundle of photographs, mostly containing me. One of them is more than 23,000 days old, but I don't remember it. As far as I know these are all the photos that exist of me younger than about my late teens. The most recent of just me are a really skinny kid with long hair hanging round an old car, with another set of me and Linda on our wedding day. Still pretty skinny, still with long hair. 

I'm seriously thinking of organizing them into a scrap book. It won't be thick, there are fewer than 100 photos. Nowadays kids have more than 100 photos of them taken before they're a month old. If you count the ultrasounds, some kids are well on their way to that before they're born.

As an aside for a couple paragraphs...
Then again, those taken now are digital photos that will probably disappear into a sea of many thousands of other photos, to say nothing of the obscurity of obsolete file formats, crashed hard drives, lost USB sticks, online services that nobody can access anymore, and corrupted backups. At least printed photos can be seen by anybody with eyes and can last for generations. But how often have you looked at a photo of your parents or grandparents that includes other people of their generation and wondered who those people are?  Even if you turn it over to read 'taken 19xx L-R Alfred, Betsy, Carol, Dennis, Edgar, Francine, Gordon, and Hanna', you might not know what the relationships are, or the occasion.

Imagine we live in this house for several more decades, and we have a medical event. Even if someone that is related to me (at this point I cannot imagine who that might be) comes in to clean up, those photos I just got will almost certainly have no meaning. The one I'm looking at as I type, of mom, her sister, and their parents, will be just an old photo of old people that by then will probably all be dead. A big dumpster will be parked on the driveway, and some husky teenagers will be hired to cart stuff out and toss it in the bin.

It makes me think of the Black Tuesday aftermath when Penn West laid off the entire team I was working with. I started looking for an important file that a team mate had been working on, but she had not saved it on any of the network drives I had access to. Nor on her personal network drive IT gave me access to because I asked nice. I eventually determined that it was on the actual physical computer hard drive because she didn't trust the network drive and liked to keep working when there was an outage. An entire floor's worth of computers were stacked up about 10 high in an office, serial numbers against the wall. I ended up taking a couple days to recreate the file. Next was a crew of cleaners. They went from office to office, cleaning. I rescued one binder that had the only copy of reference info that was important to me, but to them, it was the binder that was important. All the paper in all the binders, all the marked up maps, all the work in progress on desks was dumped in a bin labelled, 'to be shredded.' And we wonder why organizations have no memory.

Digression over.

The package included a good photo from 2018 that I was not in, one of mom, brother, sister, step-father, step-brother, step-sister, plus spouses and children for the siblings. That might get framed. There are complicated reasons I'm not in the photo. I think I've seen a digital version of this, but I wouldn't want to have to find it in a hurry. (See above.)

The surprise was my grade 5 class photo. I didn't recognize me at first, then I realized there was only one kid wearing glasses, and I started wearing glasses in grade 3. I could only remember the name of one of my classmates, but I couldn't pick him out. I remember the teacher's name, I'm pretty sure it's spelled Mr. Reid. He's easy to pick out in the photo of the teachers because he's the only man aside from the principal. He looks like a teenager to me now and was probably in his early 20's. The principal's name came to me a bit later, Mr. King, as well as a few other classmates, such as another Keith, Kathy and her cousin Barbara, Bruce, and Leslie.

Some days I like to wonder what happened to people I once knew. None have gone on to fame and fortune, at least not that I know about. They might be as famous in their fields as I was in mine, and nobody outside the field would know. Or care. Most likely they're working for The Man, providing for their families, and trying to enjoy life. Then again, at least of them are probably retired, and I know a few of the people I knew in high school have died.

Some people live completely intertwined with their family. I worked with a woman at Skystone who was looked younger than she was. She started at the same time one of the owners had their first grandchild, and there was much ado being made about grandchildren. After a bit she was asked about her family, and she mentioned having 4 children and 7 grandchildren, which was a bit of a shock. She remarried and moved to a small town near both of their families. The downside of this is when his son and her son got into a fight at centre ice during a hockey game, and more people were looking at them in the stands to see how they'd react, than watch the fight. She once told me that a day doesn't go by without seeing or talking to at least one of her immediate family.

Linda has a cousin here in town that we haven't seen for a couple years now. (Damn you COVID!) I recently had a cousin move to Airdrie, but he is busy putting his house together and getting settled. (He has sod and a deck, so I'm confident an invite will happen soon. Hint, hint.) I was in touch with some of my mom's cousins after a family reunion, but have since lost touch with them. Other than that, it's Ontario or Fraser Valley to visit relatives.

You're expecting to see some of the photos, aren't you? I can hear the question. Maybe. I'll have to take a photo of the photo, and I don't know how that will turn out. Stay tuned. Oh, all right. A more recent photo of me taken by Michelle on the day of the Ukraine walk.

Of the Day
Driftwood. No, I didn't put that shell there.



Film (GW690, Kodak Gold 200, found in Fish Creek)

1 comment:

  1. My friend Mary said,
    "Hi Keith, Just read your blog "reflecting on family". I don't sign-on Google, so here are my thoughts. Albums - yes. I've done that over time; however, I have just about no relatives, so, other than me, have no idea where they'd go. I've tracked down some cousins for the yearly hello, but have no idea of their lives. At my latest university reunion only 2 people from my year showed up (I didn't go, but my friend told me). I keep in touch with way more than that online!
    Re; family. I've gotten into genealogy using FamilySearch (free), and found out about past relatives. Good fun if you like detective work. They now allow pictures. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that a photo of my Dad RIP was added. I messaged the person who sent it, and she's related to my Dad's first wife (who died, then he married my Mom). So we had a good chat. I'm thinking of adding some of my pix to this "open source" since otherwise the pix will be trashed eventually. The site is maintained by the LDS so I'm sure it will be around for a while."


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