Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 17, 2009

A Shoe Box Full of Hugs

   I think everybody has a box nestled away in a corner of some closet, a sort of coffin for forgotten photos. On the last day of one of my annual visits with my folks, Mom produced just such a box out of the dark recesses of a closet. It was a shoe-box full of old pictures that never made it into the family photo albums for whatever reason. I have no idea how long this treasure box lay buried under comforters and sheets, but there it was, out of the closet and on the kitchen table. Seated around the table were the two individuals that must be present at such events, individuals capable of identifying the contents and trained in carbon-dating such artifacts, Mom and Dad! As we lifted the lid off the box that once contained a pair of black wing-tips, we were not disappointed to find what seemed like hundreds of glossy black and white photos, the old-timey kind with the serrated edges.

With my Grandad   What a find and what an experience — matching photos with memories and memories with photos. Even pictures of my grandparents when they were my age! And lots of baby pictures that were filed away to be placed in photo albums at some future date that never arrived. One of the things that impressed me the most was all the hugs, squeezes, and cuddles that were captured on film — real moments of warmth and intimacy preserved on a vulnerable sheet of glossy paper. And then I found it. A picture of my grandfather with his arms wrapped around two-year old me! On the back was my grandfather’s handwriting and the date, May 1958. Warm tears filled my eyes. That one picture opened a flood gate of emotion as I thought about my never-too-tired-or-embarrased-to-hug-and-kiss-me grandfather. I wanted to step into the picture and just feel his warm embrace one more time.

   I brought that picture home with me, along with several others, and determined that such valuable treasure would never again be buried and forgotten in an unmarked corner of a closet. I measured them carefully and then set about finding the frames that would hug and protect and keep them before me as reminders of my good fortune as a child. And so now they are displayed around our home, these photos of hugs gone by. And I have excavated the site where my wife and I have buried our hundreds of photographs of birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and everydays. And I have selected photos of hugs and smiles and laughter and kisses and placed that generation of photos beside the old black and white glossies. I am more determined than ever to preserve these moments from the past to remind me of the opportunities of the present — opportunities to hug and kiss and laugh and enjoy the people who mean the most to me. And I am also determined to keep film in the camera at all times to record and preserve such moments for the next generation. A future generation that will one day look through old shoe-boxes full of hugs, buried under comforters and sheets in a forgotten corner of a closet, waiting to be discovered and appreciated and put on display. Proverbs 13:22a records “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” Don’t neglect leaving a treasure box full of hugs!

• • • • •

Written May 1991 | San Antonio, Texas
Published in Home Life magazine | August 1995
Published in The Plus Years magazine | 1999


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