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A Few Thousand Smiles

Posted around lunch time by Jackina Stark

The framing is almost done on the Branson house, and now that we’re back home in Joplin for a few days, we decided to go through boxes of pictures and try to toss, sort, and combine everything into one nice big plastic bin with a snap-on lid. We may have to go get a bigger one. I’m keeping more than I should.

I was snapping pictures long before digital cameras existed and scrapbooking made keeping a pictorial record fun and rewarding (and an incredible time-consuming labor of love).

No albums for me. Just envelopes of pictures, and I only began a sloppy form of putting dates on them sometime in the eighties. I have to line up the girls’ school pictures by teeth: baby teeth, missing teeth, growing teeth, complete set.

You don’t have to tell me how pitiful that is.

But I have to give myself credit: I took pictures. And I became an especially dedicated photographer (or record keeper) during the first twelve years the grandkids came along. I still snap pictures of them, but their parents have joined the fray, so I don’t have to be as vigilant as I once was, and of course, I’ve started forgetting things, including taking pictures, even though Tony has bought me a darling little camera which I keep in an inside pocket of my purse.

I’m happy to say I took a picture of my granddaughter Mariah last weekend with our framed house down the hill in the background.

Tony and I will have been married forty-four years this summer. We’ve been smiling at the camera for a long time now, and I’ve been going through pictures taken during those years. I’ve thrown out the really bad ones, which is a blog entry in itself, a classification and division essay. But there are so many pictures I kept: sweet ones, funny ones, interesting ones. That plastic container is a treasure chest.

It contains, in part, births, graduations, weddings, family gatherings at Thanksgiving and Christmas and Fourth of July, family vacations and reunions, visits and vacations with friends.

In so many of the pictures, someone is being hugged or held. What on this earth is nicer than that?

Six of us took a cruise a few weeks ago, and my friend Pam took a picture of me and Claudette, a friend I’ve had since college. It is taken from the back, and we are looking out across the ocean, our arms around each other’s shoulders. If I ever get a hard copy of it, it will be a keeper. (I’ll try to date it when I throw it into the box.)

I doubt I’ll ever get around to making albums. But it will be easier to look through my box now that things are sorted a bit. We might have a marathon picture viewing the next time the family gathers.

The grandkids hate for me to talk about passing from this life to the next (I call it passing from life to life), but when it happens, and both Tony and I are gone, I hope the kids and grandkids can take off a few days and sit around this plastic container, this treasure chest, and look at our lives together in pictures and take all the hugs and smiles they want. I hope they can feel the warmth of our love and thank God that we’re waiting for them in a place he’s prepared for those of us who believe.

But first—the new house and a family vacation on Dauphin Island!

Someone find my purse and hand me my camera. :-)