Friday, February 10, 2006

Protect Your Family Pictures By Sharing Them

We’ve gotten so much fixed on the house now, I’ve kind of moved on from what was lost, accepted it as is--all but for my family pictures and keepsakes. There’s nothing I can do to bring them back, and that hurts most of all. I have the first few years of my children’s life, and then nothing until now. I’m a picture nut….have always taken tons of them of my children, of family, friends, pets, places, ect…. Now years’ worth of them are just gone, completely gone, forever gone.

The “if onlys” are enough to drive a person crazy, so I just fight the thoughts and sadness as best I can. You can’t go back in time, not to take more pictures or to make sure the ones you had are safe.

It wouldn’t be so bad if there were other copies, even of part of them, but there aren’t. I almost always got double prints of my pictures, and for years I gave copies to family and friends, mostly to my mother and my sister. But in ’95 my mother died, my father had already been sick for years, my sister moved far away, and other family members moved off or drifted out of touch without Mom to pull us together. In ’96 I got my first computer and the Internet. I had lots of pen pals back then, and often shared pictures with them and family members when I sent letters. But pretty soon letters became a thing of the past and we were all doing e-mail.

After Mom died, Dad was in really bad health and I had to take care of him, I also had two kids to raise, a husband, and I started working, doing full-time freelance writing. Suddenly those double-prints just stayed in those packs, both sets of them. I didn’t even put them in albums any more. It just seemed there was never enough time.

(Thank goodness my older pictures weren’t with them. Most of the older ones are safe and sound, though there were black & white pictures and family keepsakes in the same big box, but thankfully those didn’t include my wedding pictures some family pictures of my parents, and the first few years from my children.)

I just wish so badly that at least some pictures from all of those missing years could have been saved. I learned a really hard lesson from all of this and I hope it’s one I don’t need a second teaching of, and that it’s one that I can save some other people from having to face.

We all know there are hurricanes, tornados, floods, house fires, and yet some how most of us always think the worst won’t happen to us. Then it does. Losing your home and clothes and everything else might hurt, BADLY, but things are things. Pictures of your loved ones are so much more to you and to those who come after you, than simple things. Those pictures and keepsakes are your family history, the faces of those long dead, of your children when they were learning to skate, or leaving for a first date, the letters your mother wrote your father or a clipping of your grandmother’s hair when it was red instead of white. There is no way to replace those if there isn’t another copy of clipping of it.

There is at least something you can do to protect your precious family pictures, and it’s not that hard and it doesn’t cost that much.

Get double prints. It’s only a little more, and most of us get them anyway. If you can’t get them every time, get them at least every other time or two. Then put them somewhere else, with someone else. Share some with your mom, your dad, your grandmother, your brother, your sister, your aunt, or close friends. If nothing else, find a friend who is willing to trade and share with you. When she gets double prints she can send you the ones that are really important to her and you will safe keep them, in return, you send your important copies to her, and she will safe keep them. If any thing happens to one of your homes, the other person will at least be able to replace those important family pictures that were shared.

You can do the same thing with old family letters or really old family pictures. Copy them, share them, even scan the most important ones in to your computer and e-mail them to yourself and others.

Some things you can’t do that with, like a memory book, baby books, and such. At least, as my mom would say, don’t put all of your eggs in the same basket. Keep them in a safe place, but maybe in different places. If you can afford it, keep the most important keepsakes in a safety box at the bank, or maybe in the top drawer of a fireproof file cabinet. Get creative if you have to.

Think about things you don’t want to think of. I’ve lived in this house for over twenty years and never had an inch of water in it during that whole time until the day two feet came rushing through with Katrina. If your house caught on fire and you couldn’t get anything out, is there some place things would be safe or stand a better chance. Even if you don’t flood, a tree could crash into your home and allow the rain to pour in. You just never know.

No matter what. When it’s said and done, you can go to Wal-Marts and pick out another TV, more clothes, pots and pans. You can go to Sears and replace your stove or washer. Yes, it all takes money, but it’s just things and money. You can have all of the money in the world, but there are things you won’t be able to replace no matter what. Life being first, and your important family pictures and keepsakes being second.

Those things, once lost, are the things you never forget or forgive yourself for.

3 comments:

Larissa said...

Charlotte,

I know EXACTLY how you feel. We had six feet of water in our house when Katrina hit, in an area NEVER before flooded. We were two miles inland and 22 feet above sea level, which makes the storm surge in our part of Mississippi aproximately 40 feet, when taking in account distance.

We lost everything, and I can't tell you how sick of hearing "they were only things" from people who haven't been there. They were "only things," but they were pictures, high school annuals, military awards, baby footprints, child's finger paintings, grandparents' love letters...things that can't be replaced.

I now tell everyone to insure to the hilt (we had hurricane insurance but not flood insurance, so NOTHING was covered and we can't even THINK about rebuilding at this time because we can't afford it,) and keep copies of everything somewhere that isn't your house. Put things that can't be replaced in safe deposit boxes. Keep duplicate records and receipts in other places.

Like you said, you always think it won't happen to you. And then it does.

Good luck to you, and God bless.

Nancy J. Bond said...

We aren't in much danger of flooding where I live, but we do get horrific wind storms by times. Nothing as devasating as Katrina, of course. I'm in the process of scanning and burning to CD all my girls' photos and all other important documents and/or photographs. I hope people will heed your suggestion.

And I'm glad to read your house is finally getting back to some semblance of "normal" :)

Charlotte Dillon said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your great losses, Larissa. I know so many people lost every single thing, like you, that it makes me feel bad for even feeling like I do about what I lost since I have some things left. I wish there was some words I could say to help, but I know there isn't. I'm just so glad that we both only lost things, and not family members!

Nancy, I'm so glad you are putting your pictures on CD. If my warning saves just one person from losing something dear to them that can't be replaced, then that's so great!