Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ode to Annie / Label your photographs




When I saw this little girl's picture on a rack of old pictures at an antique mall a few years ago, I couldn't bear to just leave her there.  Taped to the back of the picture is a yellowed newspaper obituary, flowery in tone, describing the grief of her family and friends when little Annie died at sixteen.

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Excerpts:

"Died at her home in this city, Saturday, December 28, Anne Lenihan, only daughter or Mr. and Mrs. Lenihan, age sixteen years, ten months and twenty days.

The sad news of Miss Anna's death, cast a shadow of gloom over the entire community, for their life had been spent here, having been born in Cheyenne Wells, February 8, 1892.

She died at 7:30 o'clock a.m. just after the awakening life of a new day she went to sleep like a tired child.  It was as the birds carolled the coming of the morning and just after the rosy fingers of the orb of day tinted the eastern sky with a sheen of glory.  Surely a most fitting time for a pure spirit to take its flight heavenward.  With the eye of faith one could see at the dawn of this memorable December day, an invisible hand wave a signal and a voice in softest accent on the morning breeze, announce that the gates were open and the God's angels were waiting to escort her in.

Born and raised to sweet girlhood in Cheyenne Wells, she was loved by all.  She was the light of the eyes of a great company of relatives and friends, and the light has now gone out.  To them, she was what the sunshine was to the world and this eclipse to them brings both darkness and chill.  She was a member of the graduating class of 1907, and her classmates are bowed down with grief."

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Passing judgment on her family members, I couldn't understand how little Annie's photograph and obituary could end up stacked on a wire spinning display with other unidentified people, probably long dead, in Texas.  Did they not care about her enough to keep her in a place of honor?

Having recently met my siblings to divide my father's estate, now I get it.  Family letters, photographs old and new, newspaper clippings, treasures untold, were stored in boxes, uncatalogued and disorganized.  My siblings and I are sentimental fools all and recognize the importance of such things, yet I don't feel at all confident that a valuable family photograph won't unintentionally end up in an antique mall in Wyoming.  Not if I can help it, though.  I spent last weekend reorganizing files. I love to organize.  It's in my personality profile and we all know the credence I place on the almighty personality profile.  Staying organized is another matter.  Not good at that.

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