What lesson did I learn?

18 Jun 2020
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People often ask me what I have learnt from my loss in the Australian bushfires, having lost my home and my business and I find it hard to answer.

One thing I would say is, if there is something you have meaning to do with photos, sorting through family archives, please do not put it off.

I had a couple scrapbooks from my grandparents shop where my grandfather had saved every advertisement put into a paper and pasted into a scrapbook. One day, I used to think I will scan all those advertisements and keep the family history.

One day never came.

I had my mums war album full of photos, writing, and artwork and I was going to scan that too.

I can not list all the things I wish I put on memory sticks. We all think we have time but if a disaster happens you do not, and I wish I had been more prepared. I cannot do anything about my loss, but I can advise you think about all those little tasks of organising letters, photos, family history and start them today.

What I have learnt is one day never comes but today is here. Is there one small task you can start today?

I hope none of you lose your possessions, but knowing you are prepared can help.

Leah

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

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Comments

Molly

June 18, 2020, 11:38 p.m.

Hi Leah, on a tiny level compared to you, I have worried my data sticks are going to stop working, my desktop is going to fail. I lost some stuff when my lap top failed a few years ago. It’s definitely worth ‘backing up’. Technology isn’t always reliable though! Nothing compared to what you have lost, and the treasures that can’t be replaced. Don’t we all wonder what we would save if the house was on fire. Yet one doesn’t expect it to happen. A good message you have put across here, to be prepared for any eventuality. Thanks Leah. Molly xx

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Leah

June 19, 2020, 12:01 a.m.

People often say if there was a fire I would take this or that. In reality that is not the time to start planning what to take . you will not think straight at that time.Molly your items are precious to you. Thanks for commenting.xx

Molly

June 19, 2020, 1:15 a.m.

Yes I realise that. I’m not sure if you misunderstood me. To be fair you knew the bush fires were on their way so you had time to save your precious possessions. That’s going to sound really harsh now but your comment upset me as I was trying to be kind xx

Leah

June 19, 2020, 2:19 a.m.

Molly I am sorry if my. Om ent upset you. I never intended that, I know you were being kind and I was being kind too. You said be prepared for any eventuality and I was commenting on that. I was just agreeing with you. Sorry again if I upset you. Never ever my intention.

Molly

June 19, 2020, 1:14 p.m.

Maybe it was me that misunderstood. In your case there was far too much to save In your shop, I mean where to start? Especially when you don’t think it really is going to happen. Terrible xx

Molly

June 19, 2020, 1:29 a.m.

Leah, I just need to say one more thing, if that’s ok. When I heard what was happening in your town, on New Year’s Eve, I was devastated. I sat here and cried and cried. That was before I even knew, but my worst fears came true and then I cried and cried some more. You have said you don’t want sympathy so I try and choose my words carefully. I doubt anyone can say anything that makes you feel better, how could they possibly do so? But please don’t get defensive with those that really really care xx

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Leah

June 19, 2020, 2:20 a.m.

I was not being defensive ***

Sally

June 19, 2020, 4:55 a.m.

Hello there, Leah! What a brilliant article/ blog. It should be published and framed! I thought it was very well thought out and written from the heart, being something you have personally experienced and only you among us, possibly, may know what the experience of going through a bushfire or several bushfires! is like. I personally have nothing to compare it with, except my historical brush with death twenty years ago. We none of us know what we would save from the fire. I’ve always said it’d be the Rosenthal vase given to me as a wedding present by a dear French friend who means the world to me. Photos maybe? Be prepared: Excellent advice, Leah. What do others think THEY would take, and why? Very interested to hear . We are all very different. Vive la différence ! Live and let live. I feel a blog coming on....maybe. Sallyxx

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Leah

June 19, 2020, 8:27 a.m.

Thanks Sally.q I think until we are in a situation we don’t know how we will react. I didn’t cry when I saw the ashes of my house but cried when I could not see my partner who had wandered iff

Molly

June 19, 2020, 1:36 p.m.

I should imagine you were in complete shock Leah. Sally, I have had a think about what I would save. I’m not sure I have anything of great sentimental value really, so if I did have time, I would grab my purse! Money can replace most things, but obviously not everything xx

the room above the garage

June 19, 2020, 5:08 a.m.

Hello Leah, on a different scale completely I understand a little bit of that feeling of loss (burglary) Wishing to go back and change things so the loss was different. And yes, I have something wee I can start with and thank you that I can benefit from your wisdom. Thank you and hope your day is okay. Love ratg xx

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Bearofliddlebrain

June 19, 2020, 6:09 a.m.

Hi Ratg, sorry your home was burgled. That is high on a scale of worries for me. So I always try to make sure the alarm is set, windows closed etc, but we have come downstairs a couple of mornings only to realise we’d left the front door unlocked!!! Eek! I think it’s the invasion of your space that’s so awful. Glad you’ve got a wee project to start on. Bear hugs ***

Leah

June 19, 2020, 8:28 a.m.

Thanks ratg, a burglary is an invasion of privacy.

Leah

June 19, 2020, 8:29 a.m.

Bear I used to worry about someone being in the house when I heard noises,

Molly

June 19, 2020, 1:42 p.m.

Hi RATG, I was burgled too years ago. I was lucky as he was interrupted and got away with very little xx

Liz

June 19, 2020, 6:09 a.m.

Hi Leah. You have got me thinking about this. My husband went through one box of his old photos and amazingly got rid of a **** of a lot of ones that he didn't want to keep. He'd want all the ones of my stepdaughter kept - there are so many - that would be an understanded given. Our history (personal) is more on digital now so my laptop has all this, plus my business stuff although there is a lot in my head, but the pictures refresh one's memory - especially with that Facebook memories - one thing I love about Facebook (amongst many I don't). One thing that I must do (or two) is sort through our wedding photos to go in the album I won days before we got married. We've been married for 15 years this summer! And my dad's box of photos and other memorabilia (the wonderful technical drawings that he did as a child) which I want to put in some kind of order and then give to my nephew to keep in the family as it were. I cannot imagine what you have gone through, trying to put myself in your shoes. I thought about your volunteering as well - remembering your other blog - having to start from scratch again. You're so brave. It's great to hear your "voice" on the blog. As for one small task, it would probably be to do the album. Other things always seem to take precedence. Another task would be to start with Dad's childhood pictures - I don't even know some of the people on the photographs so some of it would be guesswork. Hugs from the Highlands x

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Leah

June 19, 2020, 8:30 a.m.

Thanks Liz starting one box at a time is ok.

Salt Water Mum

June 19, 2020, 6:24 a.m.

Hi Leah, Thank you for your blog. And your wise words. We all say 'one day I'll... do all those jobs' don't we? And yet we put them off. I have a lot to be scanned too. And I yet I move house each time and take all the photos and the paperwork with me. Like Room Above the Garage, I have a small sense of your loss (also a burglary) where my precious jewellery was taken. And I still get the odd flash back to that day. I can't imagine how immense your loss and pain is. I am sending good and positive thoughts your way, take care and be extra kind to yourself, swm x

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Leah

June 19, 2020, 8:32 a.m.

SWM We often forget what we have lost. We say oh I have such and such but we don’t. Jewellery is so personal. Thanks for your blog

Bearofliddlebrain

June 19, 2020, 6:25 a.m.

Dearest Leah, What a great blog. It instantly brought to mind the horrific images we saw on the tv. and how we all felt for you and Mr. Leah. I think we all felt so helpless but there were kindnesses sent from lovely Moodscopers and so many wishes and prayers for you. The second thing you have reminded me of is this saying: 'Never put off until tomorrow, what can be done today'. So I will try to be a Boy's Scout and 'Be Prepared!' There are wonderful 'things' I have that have been passed down through the family, so maybe now is the time to take pictures of them and keep them stored on the 'cloud'. (I did lose a lot of pictures a few years ago, before this 'cloud' was available...and that was sad as they were some of the last pictures I had of my Mum before she died. So hey ho, I still have memories to flip through!) Only you can tell us how this affected you and how you continue to manage day by day...and now with the virus on top of everything else...it’s been a torrent of terrible things happening since last December....so I have to hope the only way is UP for you Leah! Keep safe and as well as you can dear Leah, Thank you for reminding us to take action today...now!! We never know what’s around the corner. Btw....we take hundreds of pictures of our doggits and after Mr. Bear and BabyBear, they would definitely be the first to be saved - the rest is just stuff. Love and Bear hugs ***

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Leah

June 19, 2020, 8:35 a.m.

Bear I started wanting to replace books I had but decided I was different. . I had 100s of books for my grand d and have started collecting again. Thanks for your comment

The Gardener

June 19, 2020, 9:12 a.m.

Leah, I have scrap books done by husband and his brother in the 1930's. I have all my articles, scrap book from model school, cannot be scanned, do I get a fire-proof cabinet? Don't want to live like that.

Jul

June 19, 2020, 9:13 a.m.

I am so pleased to hear that you've started collecting books again Leah. Jul xx

The Gardener

June 19, 2020, 7:22 p.m.

Bear, your remark 'how it will affect you'. Almost from our arrival here, people would ask what we would do if one of us died. Stupid question - depends on so much - move because memories are unbearable, stay put because it was (still is) good.

Leah

June 19, 2020, 8:08 p.m.

Tg I know people who left precious items at friends places but all my friends places burned too. You. Outdoor give them to one of your children but you probably enjoy them now, As I said life can get In way of plans ..

Dido

June 19, 2020, 6:29 a.m.

Hi Leah,Thank you for your blog. I have worked on the pictures in my head since loosing my ones of the last 10years. My experience of friends who have been victims of loosing homes through fire is long term they are more resilient in the face of adversity. My close friend who lost everything, even had to re-establish her identity to the authorities, is that she is more grounded and relaxed. She has a dish of burnt out scraps that reminds her of things she lost. I have learnt a lot through being around her. I don't rely on digital but make hard copy of anything important. Interestingly my friend had all her important papers in a metal fire box but hadn't locked it. It got knocked over and opened the contents destroyed. So my box is in the garage and locked. It's good to remind me , thank you. Dido

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Leah

June 19, 2020, 9 a.m.

Thank you dido. I am not sure I am that resilient like your friends.

Dido

June 19, 2020, 6:36 p.m.

Hi They are all much further down the line. My friend is 7years away and the others 5 years. My son and his family 3years, my son is in hospital with malaria as I write and I am very impressed by the way they are both handling the problems that have come with it. They have a calmness that wasn't there before driving through the fires. I have noticed they all went through a long period of recovery, in different ways they had to come to terms with their losses, and their traumas, the things they have been left with and how to live and rebuild in their communities . As I write this the fires are threatening a friend in southern Portugal, I'm praying the winds don't turn. Thank you for your writing Leah. I hope you see the resiliance in yourself as you recover. You write directly and have reminded me to check my things again. *** Dido

The Gardener

June 19, 2020, 7:25 p.m.

Dido, written below after re-reading here - official papers kept safely top priority - otherwise you have stress on top of stress. Establishing identity in France a nightmare. But passports stolen in Amsterdam, they were marvellous. xx

Leah

June 19, 2020, 8:11 p.m.

Dido, I need to remind my self it is only 6 months ago but seems like a life time .add to that covid -19 and other family illnesses and accidents, Your family members give me hope.

Jul

June 19, 2020, 6:46 a.m.

Hello Leah. I am so sorry you have lost all these personal archives and a historical record of your family. You can't now look at photos of your grandparents. Do you have any photos of your parents left? Presumably your children have photos. You've started me thinking about this. I can't think of anything I keep meaning to do and haven't got round to it yet. But I'm lazy. Many of my photos are in a box in the attic. I will never put them in an album. I suppose I should think of scanning some into my computer. The situation where a fire destroys your home, your livelihood and all your possessions, is something so surreal, I doubt if normal everyday solutions and advice will mean much to the person who has lost everything. Thank you for reminding us that the unimaginable can happen and we should think about the repercussions. You must think how blasé we all are until this happens. Jul xx

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Leah

June 19, 2020, 9:03 a.m.

Thanks Jul. I am lucky I have recent fami,y photgraphs as partner is a phototographer and saved a lot.

Oli

June 19, 2020, 6:55 a.m.

Leah, you have made me think. A long time ago now when my wife and I separated she was worried about splitting the photos. I was okay for her to have them all. They meant everything to her and nothing to me. Same with clearing out my mum’s place after she’d died; lots of photos, dumped them all. I don’t have any photos. Of possessions, I’ve got too much stuff but I’m in the process of getting rid of it. I want it all gone. What is it that people do with photos? I remember having a conversation with someone and he said that he likes remembering nice times from the past. He was serious, he said he will spend quite a bit of time just replaying old memories. I have almost never done this. Leah, your blog is really making me wonder!

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Leah

June 19, 2020, 9:04 a.m.

Oli , you have made me think too.

The Gardener

June 19, 2020, 9:06 a.m.

Oli, my photos help me with depression. Recent family arguments have made me doubt myself as a Mum, till look back at family parties - they WERE happy. And garden, when I regret the past I go in the road and see what I have done this year.

Jul

June 19, 2020, 9:12 a.m.

I know that feeling Gardener..doubting yourself as a Mum. Jul x

Leah

June 19, 2020, 10:22 a.m.

I know that feeling too TG and Jul. I used to think I was a miserable child yet saw photos were I was having fun.

Molly

June 19, 2020, 1:57 p.m.

Oli, I think it’s good to keep a few. I have photos of occasions I would never remember unless I had the photos to remind me. I occasionally look through them and some make me happy, some make me sad. I liked showing my husband some from the past with some having a little story behind it. But he’s like you, when clearing his mums house and finding several albums, he just wasn’t interested, which I thought was a shame. But I guess they would just sit there collecting dust xx

Oli

June 19, 2020, 3:45 p.m.

Makes sense Molly. I don't have any cos I can't recognise anybody. All the same I really do like anchors to the past. Once I unexpectedly caught up with an old gf and I lent her a crash helmet so we could go off for a ride. That was fun. For years I could smell her perfume. It's faded now. I can't remember her but I wish I still could smell her perfume. x

Molly

June 19, 2020, 4:44 p.m.

Fascinating Oli, I’m struggling to imagine how this must be for you xx

Leah

June 19, 2020, 8:13 p.m.

Oli , my dad used to write all our names on back of photos in the days of film. It used to annoy me as I knew everyone in the photos but it was handy after he died to know who long lost friends and relatives were,

Molly

June 19, 2020, 8:40 p.m.

Yes Leah, names and years come in very handy xx

Willi

June 19, 2020, 7:06 a.m.

Leah - thank you, your blog HIT me. Due to the Corona lock down here in Germany I took my time, to digitalize the so called family archive, to go through all the papers hidden in old folders, saving negative films and paper pictures before they get too bad and worn or lost. But this is only the first step - saving information before it is lost. The next - and harder step - is to learn something and to get - yes - a kind of guidelines from our ancestors. Again - in the first step for ME, but in the next step for my kids, the descendants. If you read in copies about denunciation of a great-aunt during the ****-regime, read the protocols of the Gestapo and the suicide of the aunt, because she couldn't stand it - this has to be a warning for all of us. To save these family documents is an imperative. The necessary steps after saving pictures and documents is to bring the results to all the members of the family, although they are spread over the world, not only in different German towns, but also in USA, Australia and more countries. And to LEARN from the past. Otherwise - the time invested in the family archives will be useless. Not only to take care of family archive content is the imperative, but to discuss the findings, to learn and to adjust the own living. And the effect is - the family will stay together and keep track, over thousands of miles in distance. Lessons learned: Do not only save the family pictures and documents - learn from them and use modern digital features, to make the findings available for all family members.

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The Gardener

June 19, 2020, 9:04 a.m.

Will, what an apt, sensible and sensitive post. The current wave of destroying evidence of the past is crazy - it happened, much of it awful, proof of man' inhumanity to man - but learn from it, destroy statues, destroy evidence.

Leah

June 19, 2020, 9:07 a.m.

Willi Thanks fir your comment. Thanks fir your suggestion re archives.

Jul

June 19, 2020, 4:33 p.m.

Hello Willi. Most of us have not had such devastating things happen to our family members. It is so good that films and photos and recordings of the **** concentration camps were kept and are still being discovered. Germany has been very honest about its past. It cannot be easy to live comfortably beside such a legacy but honesty is the best way to do this and survive. Future generations will thrive and create new communities etc because they can learn from the mistakes of the past. Thank you for writing Willi. Good to have you on board!. Jul xx

The Gardener

June 19, 2020, 8:25 a.m.

I nag, here, only word, about getting those photos scanned on to computer - then discus, USB, whatever. Leah, don't beat yourself - you would have had to be ready at any moment with a lorry outside to flee. Most people have lap-tops now. If I go away for any length of time also got a portable hard disc, my books, photos, presentations on there. Then, for our golden wedding, a daughter MADE us (she's that sort of daughter) do an amalgam of photos, holiday, business, photos - so there is an 'overview' of our life in one album. Children and grand-children load photos as they are scanned on to their own systems, so well spread. Cont

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Leah

June 19, 2020, 9:08 a.m.

Tg I am impressed with your computer knowledge.

The Gardener

June 19, 2020, 8:41 a.m.

Over twenty years ago there looked like being a violent coup in Jakarta, son, wife and two boys had to leave at 4 hours notice, taking only vital personal belongings with them. Later, the men returned but schools shut and wives and children had to shift for themselves. A 6 year-old grand-son came to us for a while. He did not miss his toys, but he adored their cook housekeeper, and worried about her. He was concerned we had no guards. And about his Daddy, as when he was picked up from school there were over 20 fires between his school and Daddy's office. A very nasty time indeed. thanks Leah, very pertinent blog.xx

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Leah

June 19, 2020, 9:11 a.m.

Tg thanks for telling us about your son and his family.

Daisy

June 19, 2020, 11:54 a.m.

Hi Leah I read your blog today when Carlos Ruiz Zafron has died. I saw an interview on the BBC website where he is asked about his books which include the cemetery of forgotten books. They ask what the cemetery is a metaphor for.? He answers it is all those thoughts memories stories dreams which have been forgotten but are those things which make us human, that we focus on the urgent but we neglect what is important those things in the cemetery of forgotten books which makes so human. I guess this is what you lost the photos the scrapbook- and are keeping them from joining the cemetery of forgotten books by keeping them in your memory- and the worry is memory is fragile Take care and thank you for the important and thought provoking blog

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Oli

June 19, 2020, 1:03 p.m.

Ah, sorry to hear he's gone. I enjoyed "Shadow of the Wind".

Jul

June 19, 2020, 4:35 p.m.

Yes I did too. I thought he was young but have not read of his demise so will do that now. Jul xx

Jul

June 19, 2020, 4:37 p.m.

He was 55. So he was young. Jul xx

Leah

June 19, 2020, 7:56 p.m.

Daisy That is so powerful the cemetery of forgotten books. All those thoughts memories amd dreams that have been forgotten. When I feel stronger I will write down the stories of the objects I have forgotten from the people who have died. Thamks so much. He was a great writer andI had one of his books in my shop.

Linda

June 19, 2020, 12:47 p.m.

Dear Leah You have suffered a great loss. I'm holding that for you.

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Molly

June 19, 2020, 2:02 p.m.

What a lovely thing to say Linda.

Leah

June 19, 2020, 7:57 p.m.

Linds Thanks so much for saying that.

The Gardener

June 19, 2020, 7:05 p.m.

Real lessons today. Get those photos scanned - we did a cross section of the best - wide memory of places, people, events. Keep paper work up to date and easily findable. The trauma of the event, fire (son's case potential civil war) even flooding (you will get back from that) is bad enough - if you have to re-establish your whole identity and get new passports, whatever - then an envelope with certificates is well worth putting with the rest, just what you can put in a small brief case and run. Mr G was very precise, and I had to take over from him for the last 10 years. Cont . . .

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Leah

June 19, 2020, 7:59 p.m.

Tg They are food plans but life can alter the best plans. Thanks for your suggestions.

The Gardener

June 19, 2020, 7:11 p.m.

Something that has come up with age, and hearing horror stories from women friends, is making sure, even if it means a row, that women insist on knowing enough to cope with finances if they have to. Awful cases, heart attack or accident, and the wife can't even pay the bills. My 95 year old neighbour did not have access to the cheque book. It sounds horribly business-like and prosaic, but at a time of great stress you don't want money troubles on top. My insurance company has photos of anything of great sentimental value in our file, so can at least prove we had it and replace in the case of burglary.

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Molly

June 19, 2020, 7:32 p.m.

It’s not just women Gardener, it can work either way. When my dads wife died, he had no clue what to do, as she dealt with it all. So I took over. My husband has no clue either, so again, I deal with it all. I’ve basically said to him, there are all the passwords for everything, in this book, and from there he will need help. But it puts my mind at ease that it’s all written down xx

Leah

June 19, 2020, 8:01 p.m.

Tg I am not practical with how appliances wotprk and running taps. I keep asking partner to show me but he is not a teacher and can do but nit explain. So I know one day I need to teach myself.

Leah

June 19, 2020, 8:03 p.m.

Molly That is a good idea about writing passwords etc down but then I would forget where I put it or partner would. Note to self get more organised.

Molly

June 19, 2020, 8:34 p.m.

I have all mine written in an address book along with addresses and phone numbers, although it’s starting to look a bit scruffy so I may well have to transfer it all. I like a bit of a scruffy book but it does need an update xx

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