Scanning memories

Monday night, after a crushing Body Pump class at Gold’s Gym, and after an excellent dinner of tilapia with green beans and Himalayan rice, all cooked by my sister-in-law, Tanya, I set up my camp in what passes as a hallway in our house. That is, at the drop-off counter near the coat rack where we keep our home computer, near our combination printer/scanner. I had a 3” stack of old photos to scan. The oldest were Polaroid snapshots of Cyndi and me with newborn Byron at the hospital in Lubbock in September 1980.

I worked for a couple of hours, eventually scanning 132 pictures. I scanned a photo of 5-year-old Byron with a black eye, his remaining injury only a few days after he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle. I scanned pictures of toddler Byron holding newborn Katie in his small lap. She weighed almost as much as he did that day. I scanned photos of both kids in their LHS band uniforms holding trombones, both kids on family ski trips, and lots of photos of kids on horseback at the Tramperos Ranch in northeast New Mexico. I scanned vacation pictures and holiday pictures and school pictures and running pictures and piano recital pictures. I scanned photos of Katie running cross-country and track.

In fact, I have been scanning photos for months preparing to publish a collection of family albums. In a digital world there is no excuse for not sharing pictures and preserving pictures. My problem is that when I think I am ready to start assembling an album I find another box of old pictures. Then I am back to scanning.

My other problem is that there are too many choices. Back in the old analog photo album days you just put your pictures on a page in chronological order and you were happy about it. Now, with digital photos, it is possible to mix and match and arrange and rearrange pictures in an infinite number of ways, which means, for an analytical thinker like me, it is hard to decide which is best. There are too many choices.

Should I make a separate album with photos of each family member? Should I make albums chronologically? Should I make an album of  vacations, or holidays, or school?

I know a lot of people love scrapbooking and they produce creative and imaginative albums. But I am not going to do that. I just want pictures on a page without a lot of rickrack.

One cool thing about old pictures is that we are smiling and happy in all of them. Well, there are a few crying baby shots, but those are exceptions. Ninety percent of the pictures show happy people.

It reminds me of a runner who only keeps track of his personal records (we call them PRs) and not his worst races. After a lifetime of racing the only numbers that matter are those PRs. Who cares about all the slow times, the hurt times, the sick times. We want to remember only the best times.

And so with the family pictures I’ve been scanning. Back in the days of paying money to buy film and paying money to have it developed, we were choosy about what we captured with our cameras. We didn’t snap off indiscriminate or temporary photos like we do nowadays with digital cameras or phones. So the pictures I am scanning, the ones from the old shoe boxes, are mementos of our best moments. We are smiling and strong and happy to be with each other.

It isn’t that I am ignoring the bad times or the struggles. I am not pretending they didn’t exist. Neither do I pretend I was never injured as a runner, or failed at a goal, or any of that. It’s just that I am choosing to preserve the happiest moments. In fact, I know not all of our family life was smiles and sunshine. We had plenty of battles and hurt feelings and offended hearts and skinned knees. But those fade away into the fog of the past as we remember our family PRs.

Maybe that’s what the Apostle Paul meant when he said he didn’t consider the sufferings of his life to be worthy to be compared to the glory that awaited him after his death. At the end of Paul’s life he didn’t dwell as much on the times he was beaten for preaching the gospel as he did on the people who had changed because of his ministry. Me too. I have been reminded once again of the fun ride we had together, and how all of us have changed.



“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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