Winter, that season for renewal and remembrance, never fails each year to reveal something long forgotten, or at least, seldom remembered.

Yesterday, in a bold act of taking on a long overdue to-do, I sorted the box of family photos. These memory triggers waited in quiet patience all these years for me to get around to sorting (tada!) and inserting into new photo albums (still to come).

While the sorting went well, it was an interesting afternoon of smiles and bittersweet memories. Not unexpected, it stirred long-asleep memories stored, but not forgotten. We’re often asked if we have any regrets in life and have to admit I have few. But reminded by this wander down memory lane, I regret losing touch with special people met along my winding and varied path in life. Past girlfriends, especially those who broke my heart, have in the past caused a dusting off of “what if…” thoughts, yet long ago forgiven. Other people I simply fell out-of-touch through the inconvenience of distance.

One girl in particular, whom I have thought about often over the years, brought back wonderful memories of a grand summer spent together. It never seems that long ago, the memories still fresh. But the math made me realize that summer is now 42 years gone. Wow. An enormous amount of water under the bridge, as they say.

Other photos of my youth, my kids when babies and toddlers, places lived or visited, houses lived in, were all sweet, soft textures of a varied life. The timing of this intentional to-do effort relates to one of my books in progress: “Decades,” essay-stories spun around significant events from each decade looking back. Before I continued revising, or embarked on new ones, I wanted to see what evidence exists to help verify the telling.

In sorting and reminiscing on the photos, however, I discovered unfortunate gaps. While I remember events well (or so I think!), Lack of photos will make it more challenging to write accurately for some of them. Yesterday I noticed details in some the photos I’m not sure I would have remembered correctly. The passing years have ways of altering memories, making some things grander, and other things minimized. I’ll have to do some hard thinking and perhaps intentional, targeted journaling to see if I can scrape off the rust from those memories I’d like to include in the book.

The funniest reaction I had yesterday were from photos in my twenties. The visual “facts” went contra to my retained memory. Back then, I’d always worried I was too heavy, too chubby. Looking back at those, my immediate thought was “Damn, I was skinny.” Vanity: enabler when young, but lost baggage now.