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Good morning, Yesterday |

Health And Family

Good morning, Yesterday

HEART AND MIND - Paulynn Sicam - The Philippine Star

The thing about reminiscing is, one memory triggers another and before you know it, you are in another era, another time zone.

When I moved from a big three-room walk-up to a much smaller townhouse in May last year, I had to get rid of a lot of stuff. Libraries got many of my books, and Caritas picked up the rest: old clothes and shoes, old-model gadgets, outgrown board games, discarded pots and pans and kitchen utensils, etc.

It is not an empty promise when Caritas says they accept anything and everything, except, I read somewhere, used underwear.
I moved to my new place considerably lighter. After almost a year here, almost everything has found its place, except for two large plastic boxes of photographs from way in the past, and a small Maranao chest where I keep letters from the era when people still wrote letters and mailed them.

The letters about our day-to-day lives brought us siblings and our children into each other’s homes. There are some letters that date back to our childhood, scrawled on random pieces of paper, telling an absent sibling how much he or she is missed.

It was also a time when pictures were printed and framed, and disseminated via snail mail over the oceans to share every milestone of every new family member so that the family in all parts of the world all felt we knew our nephews and nieces whom we had never met. It was a delightful practice, and I have hundreds of pictures to show for it.

What to do with these family mementoes? My friend Yvette suggested that I scan them and dispose of the originals.  She even lent me a handy portable scanner that works like magic. Small, lightweight and efficient, it operates without having to be connected to a computer. But I didn’t want to start scanning until I had met all my deadlines and my desk was clear.

Last week, I finally had the time to begin scanning.  In two afternoons, I scanned 700 pictures, and there are thousands more in the boxes.  I could be more productive if I didn’t examine every shot and reminisce: Who were there? How old were my daughters then? What on earth was I wearing?

The thing about reminiscing is, one memory triggers another and before you know it, you are in another era, another time zone. Monica’s first ballet recital leads to Glory at three, dancing in the aisles of the Meralco auditorium during the show; which leads to the three-year-old Glory dancing on top of the table in Shakey’s to the music of the Apo when their gigs were still in small intimate venues.

I found pictures of many Noche Buenas over the years where every family posed for a portrait in our Christmas finery that demonstrated the fashion of the day — from shoulder pads to big sleeves to wildly printed shirts, to long dresses to minis — and showed the children and their parents growing in age and grace.

Those were wonderful times, until one by one, families moved to other lands so that our reunions must now be planned months ahead and attendance at what used to be spontaneous reunions is possible only on “best efforts” basis.

At this point, the old Kodak commercial began playing in my head: “Good morning, yesterday, you wake up and time has slipped away…”
From my stash of pictures, I realized how much I traveled in the past, but they were all work-related trips until the last 14 years when I went to Australia annually to visit my grandchildren.

So, there are few pictures of me in Europe, Africa and Asia (I have yet to set foot in South America) shopping, partying or visiting tourist destinations. The US is different. I would take side trips from work to visit my siblings who live there.

But my most precious photos are of my two girls, and our lives together, measured in diapers and baby food, road trips, ballet, braces, art lessons, asthma attacks, burgers, pets, birthday parties, clan reunions, homework, beach holidays, chicken pox, Broadway musicals, the theater, activism, travel, fun times, heartaches, and the shared joy of the coming of the next generation — my grandchildren — Diego, Luis and Maya.

A high point of my daughters’ childhood is the well-documented year we spent in Palo Alto in 1984 to 1985 when I participated in a journalism fellowship in Stanford University. I am smiling as I write this.

That was a very good year. The girls went to public schools in Palo Alto where they shone. Monica, then 12, was the favored babysitter among the fellows who had kids. Glory, eight, bought her own bike by crowdsourcing funds from relatives. Their playmates in the neighborhood were in and out of our house on campus, especially when there were chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. They had sleepovers, we had cookouts in the yard, and in the summer, the children played baseball until sundown at 9 p.m.  And there were Sundays with my favorite aunt who lived close by, and Christmas with my siblings in Southern California.

I could go on and on remembering the times of our lives, but I still have one and a half boxes of pictures and a chest full of letters to scan. But after scanning them, will I have the heart to put my original files through a shredder? That’s the point of scanning, isn’t it? But the pack rat that I am, I doubt that it will be an easy decision.

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