Treasure Your Family Memories: Inspiration in Unexpected Places

by : Christine Sutton

A Saturday morning expedition with the kids brought me an unexpected surprise. Certainly I had some expectations of our outing to the "Healthy Kids Day" at the local YMCA. Mildly entertained children, yes. Gentle reminders to make healthier choices, yes. But newfound inspiration to help others (and ourselves) preserve precious photographs? That I wasn't expecting!

It happened during a conversation with a firefighter. I was impressed by this humble man from the start. Not by his appearance or by his communication skills, but by his simple willingness to serve. In his role as a firefighter, he has missed out on many family gatherings and holiday celebrations. He is just one of many caring individuals who generously volunteer their time to protect our small towns.

Then he said something that really amazed me. He recalled a recent fire, and he described how he went into the lower portion of the house and began taking all of the family photos off of the walls. He carefully stacked them all on a bed and wrapped them up in a blanket to protect them from smoke and water. It goes without saying that the family was extremely grateful and also surprised by the man's compassionate actions. In explaining his actions, the firefighter went on to say the words that we have all heard countless times, "Those things can't be replaced." He said that he's been through the pain of losing a father and losing a son, and aside from the people in his life, nothing is more valuable than the photographs!

I'm sure we'd all agree that our photographs truly are our most prized possessions. And while I hope that we may we never be in a position to rely on a selfless firefighter; I have to wonder: Are we doing all that we can to protect our precious photographs? Are we treating our precious photographs with the significance that we say they hold in our lives?

A fire or a flood is an unthinkable tragedy; one that I hope none of us ever need to face. But what about the other hazards that we subject our photos to every day? Many people relegate these most precious possessions to an acid-filled shoe box, where they will suffer great damage, slowly and silently.

Copyright 2003-2004, by The Sentimental Playground. Article may be reprinted with permission.