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Photographs are keepsakes

The smell of mold and such made my nose twitch as I picked up the old photo holder from the table.

A quick glance inside confirmed the source of the itch – 30 years of Iraqi dust wrapped around an assortment of memories.

Photos of soldiers in camouflage, family cookouts under the oaks and a smiling third grader boasting his favorite Ninja Turtle T-shirt were tucked inside the plastic holder.

Discovered as Mother dug through history in an attempt to ready herself for retirement, she said.

Growing up, we don’t look at our parents as people. As “Mom” and “Dad,” they are the glue that holds the family together.

We don’t see them as individuals with hopes and dreams. As children, we also don’t realize the struggle they face to put food on the table and keep the lights on.

I was in the eighth grade when my father deployed with Brewton’s National Guard unit. For more than two years, he lived a life of sand and letters from home. And tucked inside the photo holder were the letters filled with lines of school accomplishments, “I miss you,” and descriptions of days gone by. From him, talks of war and thoughts of the green grass of home.

I can only imagine the loneliness he felt each day living in a foreign land, fighting a war and being away from his family.

Right now, it’s 9 p.m., and we’re sitting in the urgent care. The oldest came home from school, sick. Looking at her on the small bed, I can’t imagine having to leave her to go fight for my country. Neither can I imagine being at home alone as my husband goes off to war.

My mother recently celebrated another birthday. In May, I’ll do the same. Time marches on. Before long, we’ll be celebrating high school graduations and more.

Today, we depend on social media to be the holder of our memories. Photos, kind notes, talks of celebrations and sadness are stored in that magical cloud.

It hurts my heart to think the letters and printed proof of our lives are slowly disappearing.  In 20 years, we won’t be able to scroll back through our news feed to find those highlights, so I’m going to keep making it my job to make sure our memories end up in a plastic pouch, ready for the next set of eyes.

I would hope you do the same.