I Can't Bear It

I’m preparing for a family reunion mid-September, going through box after box of old photos.

The primary goal is to find pictures of my dad’s side of the family to share with cousins I’ve seldom seen over the decades. They’ve pledged to do the same.

But I’m also committed to culling this mountain of images. I toss any shot that isn’t in focus. If I don’t know what it is, where it was taken or who’s in it, out it goes.

And I was doing really well…until I found the pic at left.

Who could throw this away? And yet, there’s absolutely no identification on the back. The cabin isn’t familiar to me. I’ve looked at other photos that appear to be from a similar time period, studying the faces with a magnifying glass.

So far, no luck identifying the woman. And I think I’d remember if I’d seen the bear...

Looking online, there are lots of tips for organizing family photos – you can even hire people to do it for you, although no one is listed in Idaho for this particular service. I especially like Abby Murphy’s system and helpful suggestions.

So far, I’ve made separate boxes for each of my siblings, for myself and for my son. I’ve divided the remaining piles into “Mom Family Pics” and “Dad Family Pics.”

I’m nowhere near done sorting. That’s partly because as a writer, I find myself getting involved in the photos themselves, and the possible stories behind them.

If I have one piece of advice to add, it’s please, please take a moment to identify the photos you print out or have developed – the date, who’s in them, where they were taken. Every time I throw one away, I suspect another story is lost.