Ah, October! Seems as though I was just writing about an early autumn not so long ago, but it’s no longer early, and it’s officially autumn now—my favorite time of the year.
I had the pleasure of seeing autumn’s beauty on Sunday as I drove from our home in northern Illinois to Port Clinton, Ohio, to spend a couple of days with my 85-year-old mother.
Traveling along the Indiana and Ohio Turnpikes that were lined with the magnificent colors of the leaves of the oaks, maples, sumac, ash, and sycamores, I once again came to realize the true miracle that is nature in all of the faces of its changing seasons. Fall is really a spectacular face!
I try to make the six-hour drive out to see my mom at least once every couple of months, as she lives alone and does very well for herself. But there are always little “jobs” she needs tended to, such as getting the storage containers of many of her fall and winter clothes down from her closet shelf. And I’ve become quite adept at hanging her bedroom curtain rod with freshly washed curtains! Helping her clean out and rearrange her outside storage closet, getting it ready for the chill of fall and the onslaught of winter, is a pretty regular duty as well.
This time, however, there was another task that we had talked about and avoided jumping into for a couple of years. In a recent phone conversation, Mom dropped not-so-subtle hints that she would actually enjoy having the long and awkward plastic container—stashed away under her bed—emptied and something done with its contents. Inside that container were picture frames of all shapes and sizes, with photos still inside each.
The container was cumbersome and impossible for Mom to lift, but I slid and prodded and nudged it out from under the bed, and we spent a good hour removing the photos from the frames and then placing the empty frames in a box that we’d take to the second-hand store the next day. That was merely the first step in dealing with the sorting and placing of her vast collection of family photos into large manila envelopes.
I suppose most families can boast of having photos that go way back to when we were kids—younger and skinnier—and even those of grandparents and great-grandparents that have somehow been passed down from generation to generation. Well, Mom’s collection, which has been stored in old envelopes and small containers forever, is no exception. It was my goal to get the collection organized and into those clearly labeled envelopes.
After a quick trip to the second-hand store on Monday morning where Mom’s box of frames was welcomed with smiles and open arms, we set about playing the sorting game. I would grab one of the full envelopes and spread the contents out on the little coffee table where Mom would identify the “main” person or family in each photo, and I would place each photo inside the new envelope with the updated label.
Of course, this procedure was time consuming, and I had to return home the next morning, but we did manage to work through several of the random envelopes, leaving the rest for her to work on during the weeks ahead. The empty container that had previously housed those annoying frames was now the perfect place for her new and improved photo envelopes! She could easily get to them when the spirit moved her, and they were no longer lying about willy-nilly. With the weather promising rain and cold down the road, it will be a good activity for her to work on at her leisure.
I kiddingly told her that I expect them to be all placed into the appropriate envelopes when I next return in mid-November. She assured me that they would be. I’m not so certain of that, but at least we’ve made that first step, and those old picture frames are no longer bugging her!
As I drove back home, surrounded by fall’s beauty once more, I felt pretty good about the way our little project had gone ….CortlandWriter