Life on Paper

My GodFather gave me a Bible on the day of my Christening.  In the front of it he wrote his name and a dedication and a date.  In the back of it I have written the names and birthdates of myself and husband, the date we married, the names and birthdates of our children and the names and birthdates of their children.  When I die my oldest son will inherit it and I hope he will continue this little family tradition.  I think it is perhaps the smallest and most solid family record I possess.

I have many other records on paper –

  • About ten photo albums containing prints from my life, and my children’s lives too, and a big box of un-albummed (is that a word? it is now) photographs of friends, holiday snaps and places.  Plus a few large Kodak envelopes of Art photos I took in my photography days – nothing special, not worth bragging about but if I had stuck with it I might have got good at photography.   It’s a record.
  • Diaries, from the first I started at about 16 right up until very recently. I think I might burn those before I die, provided I get some notice of the event… they were dedicated to my grandchildren but I am not sure now that I want them read by anyone, too personal, to full of angst.  Its a record though.
  • A couple of boxes of letters.  Not works of literary genius by any means but destroying them would be somehow unthinkable.  There are love letters in there, a record of the wonder of being loved and loving in return; letters from friends, family, people who mean/meant something special, whose regard I treasure.

These things are all on paper, not digital.  I have had many computers since I first owned a machine, and I have written and photographed and stored things on Hard Drives since those early days but sometimes Hard Drives break, and things are lost, or technology takes a stride and the old formats are not carried forward into the new.  I have very little archive on my latest machine, and when I die will my sons bother to look inside my old dusty files and keep my digital history? Will it be lost? Will it matter?

When my son had his first son, he wanted to see his baby pictures when I told him his child looked just like him as a child.  I got out the album and we looked at them and we scanned some and mailed them to his machine at home.  Will he print them?  Will his grandchildren be able to look at them and compare with their own children?  Will they care?

I think we are losing our memory streams in this digital age.  Archiving a family is becoming a lost art.  We dont write much by hand any more. This blog has been my diary since I began it and I have written nothing by hand since June.  I think I will return to Pen and Ink, in addition to this ephemeral ethereal fragile intangible medium.  I don’t think the Keyboard is mightier than the sword.