Do you see those photos on the wall behind me? That was what we called "The Wall of Fame" in the den, at my parents' home in the Hollywood Hills. For 26 years we added photos to it and they sprawled across the wall in a wonderful haphazard way, the photos commemorating births, graduations, marathons finished, weddings, road trips, loved ones lost, and other great memories of our family and friends.
I spent as much time in that house as any other single place on earth and I'll tell you, I never got tired of looking at that the photos on that wall. And it was like a magnet for first time visitors to the house. You could gaze at it and get a true sense of the great life that my mom and dad built together, and if your picture was on the wall you could not help but feel lucky to be a part of it.
When we had to pack up and move after selling the house, the very last thing to go was the Wall of Fame. I remember my sister and I were there, along with some painters who were touching up the walls in a now empty house. We told them not to start on the den until we gave them the OK -- we were going to photograph the wall and then take down the pictures ourselves. I can't remember why, but we went out to run a quick errand, and when we returned one of the painters had taken it upon himself to "help" us; he had pulled all of the pictures down, and they were lying in a huge pile on the floor. Amy and I were devastated. There was no way to reconstruct it, no way to capture a parting photo of all those memories.
For me, that sad experience represented the all too common process of losing the memories of a loved one's life -- especially in the midst of dealing with a terrible disease like Alzheimer's. Once the odyssey began we could barely keep our heads above water. Over time we downsized, packed things up, stored some, sold some, and donated the rest. And every step of the way we had a nagging feeling that we should be doing something more to preserve the story of such a remarkable life.
The Memory Kit was born in that pile of photos on the floor. From that moment came the spark that ignited our passion to make it easy for everyone to capture and share the story of a lifetime, to get a head start and let your family and friends contribute along the way. Because you never know when your wall is going to come down.
Your memories matter.
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