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10-15-2019, 01:59 PM - 4 Likes   #1
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.... and now that the end is near....

I'm 74 years old and very much a realist. I know that considering my health issues, my genetics and the feeling I have in my bones.... my time will come to take the ultimate backpacking trip sometime in the next five years or so. I hope l'm wrong and I live to be 100, but like I said.... I'm a realist.

I'm one of the most organized people on earth to the point of being OC. You'll never find a can of soup in my pantry that is NOT facing out, label up and in the soup section. My shirts are all hung facing left, in the proper color section - short sleeve or long? Shoes, socks, documents, spices, CD's, DVD's, tools, nails, screws.... you name it.... I'm on it! It's a curse at times.

I'm the same about my photos, and particularly my Family Photos. I've went to great lengths to scan and digitize hundreds of old family photos, some from back to the turn of the century. I've broken them down into paternal and maternal sections, then down the list of father, mother, children, children's children. Uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, family pets, past residences.... all the stuff you'd expect to find in a REALLY organized family album and THEN some. Even old girlfriends.

All this brings me to this point in my life. I live alone. I'm confined to a wheel chair. I have one daughter that is not in the least interested in either my photography or the family album. I have few if any living relatives that give a hoot one way or another, so.... I'm at the point that I'm wondering what will become of all these what I consider "priceless" images of an entire lineage.... and entire bloodline? Will all my efforts be for naught? That is a distinct possibility.

A few years back, I wrote a short essay called "My Thoughts on Ageing," and it addresses this issue. I thought I'd share it with you. I hope this isn't too personal, in bad taste or inappropriate. If so, my bad.

***********************************************************************

"August 2015

Thoughts on Ageing


As I sit here, coffee cup in hand and staring out the window, leaves of yellow and brown are blowing down the street. Could it be that another year has come and gone? My, but how quickly the seasons change as we age. It won’t be long until a blanket of white covers the ground and the daylight hours will be far too short.

I can remember when summer vacation from school seemed like an eternity, now three months is nothing more than the blink of the eye.

Growing old is an odd sort of thing. It’s upon you like a thief in the night. One moment, you’re lithe, spry and full of energy. You work hard and play even harder. You see the elderly…. gray haired with cane in hand…. and pay them only a casual glance, never making the connection until suddenly, you are them!

I try to make sense of it all, but it’s so difficult to imagine how it all happened so fast. This was never supposed to happen to me. Perhaps everyone else, but surely…. not me! The face in the mirror, staring back at me…. that can’t possibly be me. No way! My God, those crows’ feet, those sagging eyelids, the double chin. And the age spots and the semi-transparent skin like crepe paper.... Not mine! Not mine, I say!

They say that life is like a roll of toilet paper…. the closer you come to the end, the faster it unrolls. It’s inevitable that it will all end some day, but I think that perhaps the cruelest of Mother Nature’s bag of tricks is to leave the final end as a big surprise. The older you become, the less plans you can make in earnest. The most important – the most pressing -- eventually becomes how and where you will be laid to rest.

I think for me, one of my most pressing issues is what will become of the possessions of mine that mean the most to me? Then, I realize, “What the hell difference does it make?” I’ll be gone and along with me will be gone the personal value of these trinkets and doodads collected over a lifetime of travels, adventures and experiences.

All these photographs I have taken over my lifetime that had such personal meaning will suddenly and with great finality, become totally and completely worthless. All the little stories and anecdotes that gave them such wonderful meaning will be lost forever when I take my final breath and my heart beats it’s last.

All those little short stories I put on paper, the ones where I truly opened up my heart, laid bare my soul and poured out my most inner feelings, those stories of personal conquests and failures - of hopes and dreams - will become nothing more than scraps of paper stuffed in a shoebox box, eventually to be hauled away by the trash man on one sunny day of spring cleaning. He will have no idea of the value of what he’s taking to the landfill. It will mean nothing to him that a man’s soul is now only part of the daily refuse. That bothers me as much as anything. It will be so final, as if my life had no meaning whatsoever. One man’s treasure is another man’s trash.

I refill my cup with coffee and resume my spot in front of the window, with my dog now resting his gray muzzle in my lap and I think to myself, “I wonder which of us will go first?” almost hoping it will be me. I’ve lost so many things in my life that I’ve loved so deeply, to be spared one more heartbreak would almost be a blessing.

“You’re such a pitiful wretch!” I say to myself. “Snap out of it!”

It has begun to rain and the dampness has slowed the blowing of the leaves. It has given them a reprieve from their aimless tumbling down the street and they begin to cling to each other in ever-increasing numbers. There’s a connection there somewhere, a parallel…. at least for me. I’ve noticed that as I age, the more deeply my thoughts are becoming.

“Is this the wisdom they speak of that comes with age,” I wonder? Or, perhaps it’s the nonsensical meandering of the mind that befalls the elderly.

Elderly. God, how I hate that word! Elderly is the last stage of life before it’s all over and done with. Elderly speaks of helplessness, of ill health, of ever-increasing dementia. It’s one foot on a banana peel and the other in the grave.

“I’ve got to get to work on my home-made coffin,” I remind myself.

And suddenly the wind begins to blow again…. and the clump of leaves break apart and slowly disappear down the street."

10-15-2019, 02:26 PM - 3 Likes   #2
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Sorry to hear you're having a bit of a down day Dewey.

As for the photographich family history record: Do you have a local archives? They're usually very interested in that sort of thing. As for the rest. We don't know what the future brings. Good luck mate!

In the mean time, be like Betty. She's 91 and ran 5km on Sunday. I'm not suggesting you run, like Betty. What I'm saying is keep living until you cark it. that's all any one of us can do. Tomorrow may be our last day. Make the most of today.
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10-15-2019, 02:40 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by MarkJerling Quote
Sorry to hear you're having a bit of a down day Dewey.
.
Mark, I'm sorry if it came across as if I'm having a "down day." After reviewing my overall post, I can see where it came across as such. It was just some thoughts that wandered into my mind as I was doing some more organizing in the "Family Album." I guess the part of the essay I thought pertinent to the main subject..... that being "One man's treasure becomes another man's trash." I think that that might be the case in more instances that many realize.

I'm very much at ease with my current situation. It is what it is and it will serve no useful purpose to bury my head in the sand over the issue. I've went to great lengths so I can keep on keepin' on. I'm a happy man because I choose to be.... and I'm enjoying the hell out of life!
10-15-2019, 03:06 PM   #4
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I would will the photographs to someone who will 'caretake' them and keep them in trust. Someone will want them at some point. I suffered a house forebears ago and almost every photo I ever had of my family going back to the Victorian was wiped out. A few strays survived the catastrophe. I never see anything as too permanent now.

Back a few years I worked as an administrator dealing with National Assistance funerals. These are the funerals where no relatives are available to manage the funeral of the deceased. Its a bit of detective work to try and find relatives, a bit of para legal to handle probate and disbursements and sometimes being a caretaker of peoples last possessions if they are unsaleable. The toughest one I had to deal with was a keen photographer. He had amassed literally thousands of photographs of the local area over about 50 years plus family albums going back to the dawn of photography with lithographs etc. Tragically I was unable to locate any kin, the local history people were not interested and I was completely unable to store a collection of pictures that occupied a space when packed into archive boxes of about 30'x 20' x 6' (yep there were THAT many photographs.
In the end I took a few of each group and stored them in my desk hoping one day I might find a relative or a 'caretaker' for the memories. Sadly it never happened and in the end when I left the job my replacement had no choice but to dispose.
Thats not a counsel of despair - it was just that with such a massive volume of prints it was impossible to consider scanning and my office had limited space. Even my archive space wasn't enough. With more time I may have found someone so my advice would be to find a caretaker now and pass on the pictures. Trust me - when someone finally passes if therearerelatives they are often the worst for grabbing whats valuable and ditching anything they can't turn into immediate cash.

I trust you will live to be a thousand though and hope your gloomy mood soon lifts.



10-15-2019, 03:13 PM   #5
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My line of work deals with reconciling the morbid thoughts of death and dying on a daily basis.
I vividly recall the adage a nearly 100 year old lady told me: "Grey hair is honourable, but old age is abominable"
One can easily slip into the nihilistic worldview but I know that life has much more meaning than we cognitively give it credit for.

Certainly archive your images, as this is the best investment your time can make towards your photography, and as Mike said we live day by day, with each new day given to us a blessing in itself.
10-15-2019, 03:24 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dewman Quote
Mark, I'm sorry if it came across as if I'm having a "down day." After reviewing my overall post, I can see where it came across as such. It was just some thoughts that wandered into my mind as I was doing some more organizing in the "Family Album." I guess the part of the essay I thought pertinent to the main subject..... that being "One man's treasure becomes another man's trash." I think that that might be the case in more instances that many realize.

I'm very much at ease with my current situation. It is what it is and it will serve no useful purpose to bury my head in the sand over the issue. I've went to great lengths so I can keep on keepin' on. I'm a happy man because I choose to be.... and I'm enjoying the hell out of life!
No apology needed. Sorry if I misunderstood!
And, I forgot to add earlier that you sound very organised. In a good way. If you'd like to come and tidy my shed, you're most welcome!

I inherited my father's "you never know when you're going to need it" hoarding tendency. My mother, on the other hand, does not and never has valued anything old. So much so that she threw out a priceless antique.
10-15-2019, 03:40 PM - 2 Likes   #7
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I'm not having a down day, in fact, I'm having a pretty good day... But, I get this..... I am the oldest. By a fair margin. All my grand-parents have pasted, all my aunts and uncles, most of my cousins, my parents, all my close friends , my brother, my wife and my dog. I am the last, or next, depending on how you look at it. Kind of makes you think sometimes, But, Hey, isn't like I'm getting picked on, singled out or anything. Just keep on, keeping on, and appreciate each day. If I live long enough I may actually figure out photography.
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