Friday, July 3, 2009

The Keeper

By Gracie Prior
I believe that I am a "keeper." "When my second son was born, he weighed nine pounds and three ounces. When I took him to my doctor, he looked at him and said, "he's a keeper." Did that mean he's a big one, like you would keep a big fish? It was a compliment and I think he meant, he's really cool. When I say, I'm a "keeper," I don't have these sentiments in mind at all. No, I am an "observer of rites." This is Webster's definition of the word.
"Observer of rites." has a wonderful sound. I believe every family should have an archivist who details the history of the family. Through journals, photo albums, scrapbooks, boxes of artwork, and small memorabilia, a history takes place that can be assessed at any time. When I look at my photo album and see a picture of myself sitting in a chair wearing a simple outfit, and my two small boys wearing somewhat mismatched clothes, I laugh. I see the smiles on all of our faces and I know that being with them was more important than having a better wardrobe.
Seeing into our history, we can see our mistakes and our achievements. As an observer of rites, I have preserved my family's joyful journey through three high school graduations, three college graduations, a sweet sixteen party, a wedding, a twenty-fifth anniversary, and a new grandson. Coming up is another wedding to be documented as well as much about the baby.
In my albums, there are photos which, just to look at them, cause me pain. I know someone wasn't happy that day. There was the quarrel, the accident, the illness, the rainy vacation. My mind is keen to remember each snippet of time and in these sad ones, I try to think what I could have done differently.
"Keeping" is not collection junk. That is not my intention. I am fastidious about going through things on a regular basis and throwing out what is not important, to make room for what is new. I start with the new joys in our lives, record them in some way and then gather up all the old treasures and cherish them. Living in the present is essential, but the very act of recording adds value to the events themselves. For example, I underline in my books to remember, often not going back to reread. Noting the special words imbeds them in memory. So an archivist always records, not just to save, but to underline the value of the present.
Though a family may not appreciate a keeper, a vital service has been performed. Without a keeper, how would progress be evaluated? A keeper is, in every sense of the word, desirable.


  1. Nine pounds three ounces! Ouch! You're a keeper all right! I really enjoyed this post. One of my favorite things to do is to get out the photo albums. It's a nice reminder of how much I have and how much I've been given.

  2. What a neat post! I regularly go through things too, but I have a special box for each of our children in which I keep special remembrances for them! And a box for myself too.