Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Desistance of Memory

He has been a customer at my shop for many years now.  Lately, though, he has been bringing in a lot of memorabilia to frame for his wife - published articles about her life experiences, certificates of commendation, old photographs.  She had also a been customer, although I had not seen her in a long time.  Several months ago when I called to tell him his last order was finished, she answered the phone , and she seemed confused - she did not recognize the name of my shop at all - but she handed him the phone and he came in straight away to retrieve his framing.

They came in together yesterday afternoon.  He is recently retired from a lengthy military career, she was in education.  They have been married for over forty years.  Onto my counter he placed a couple of newsletters which had articles about her teaching mission in a remote Alaskan Eskimo settlement in the early seventies.  She strolled over to the workbench, looked at the articles and said, "Why - that's me!  Where did you find those?"  She is a tall, slender and beautiful woman with curly white hair, bright blue eyes, and an easy  smile.  He is solid and taciturn. She commented that she had forgotten all about those articles.

We had a pleasant chat about the quirks of memory and I told them that I always keep a scrap of paper in my back pocket with "my list" on it.  I told her if I complete a task that I have forgotten to write down - I write it down anyway and cross it off , just for the satisfaction of crossing something off the list.  She laughed.

We wished each other a happy Easter and he handed me his business card so I did not have to hunt for his phone number to call when the order was ready.  As they were leaving he slipped a second card into my hand.  I did not look at it until after they had driven away;  when I did read it, my heart sank.

It is only natural that the public tends to associate picture framing with art.  Sure, we frame oil paintings, watercolors, ink drawings, pencil drawings, pastels, needle art,  photographs and posters. We also frame diplomas and sports jerseys, medals and score cards.  But the most important job of our profession is to present and preserve memories.  It is my hope that these and other framing projects will help this lovely woman hang onto her memories a bit longer.