An upcoming family celebration sent us on a trip down memory lane, the mission — to find photos for a project our daughter Kate is working on. Most of the photos she needed were from the 1980s, which seemed recent, until I started going through our albums, many now with loose pages.

The majority of the photos have dates and are in a semblance of order, not bad since our collection began in 1969, when Spark and I married, in not one, but two ceremonies — a rather large public service at Boeuff Presbyterian Church in Gerald and a private ceremony at a Catholic church in St. Louis two days later, only our attendants there to stand up for us.

Two ceremonies appeased our religions. Remember those days?

How It Started

Two flimsy albums hold memories of our first year of marriage when we lived in St. Louis and traveled extensively because I worked for Ozark Airlines, the glory days of aviation when flying was a luxury and not a cattle call. Photos captured our honeymoon in the Bahamas, $40 each to fly there round trip — on the tarmac I’m shown boarding our plane, my chin-length, frosted hair blowing, dressed in a smart aqua blue suit with a pencil skirt, accessories in chocolate brown.

Aqua must have been a big color that year, because other shots show me on the beach in a swimsuit in the same shade, Spark next to me, his hair coal black, his tummy flat as a pancake, as was mine.

Becoming Parents

The next album launched us into parenthood, our newborn daughter Jennifer, just home from the hospital, outfitted in yellow, a matching crocheted afghan draped around her to ward off an April breeze, our border collie Chuck pictured alongside a couple who clearly had no idea what was in store for them.

I was so young, so green, armed only with Dr. Spock’s book on child rearing and advice from my mom and aunt.

They helped us along when the second daughter arrived, Rebecca, who didn’t gain weight the first six weeks of her life because of a milk allergy. She’s pictured in one photo in a footed sleeper, skinny as can be, but adorable.

Jump ahead six years, and she’s a blonde curly top sitting on our old blue velvet couch, holding a new sister, Katie, on the day we came home from the hospital. Spark is next to his girls, beaming and tan.

A Meaningful Evening

Picture by picture, album by album, my husband, now of 47 years, and I paged through memories, pulling photos out of their holders to look at inscriptions jotted on the back, Mom’s sweet message with a date, Kate pictured at their Florida condo displaying a fish my dad had helped her catch.

Fast forward to the grunge era when black was the thing, and Kate’s pictured at Christmas in a dark stocking cap at my parents’ house in Gerald, on their flowered couch with a gift in hand. In childish handwriting, one of the girls has written, “Kate having anxiety because she only has one present.”

The evening of going through old photos was precious — Spark and I immersed in our familial history, the images awakening memories of emotions we felt as the camera clicked, a smorgasbord of feelings, depending on where we were as we jettisoned into the future, young parents immersed in child rearing, mid-lifers with teens who tried us to the umpteenth degree, and now members of the older generation, seniors with grandchildren we adore as much as our own little chicks.

With each passing year, life grows sweeter, more precious in its brevity, and we give thanks, especially for family, for daughters who have taught us so much about accepting what is and going with the flow.