My brother died last Sunday. (Aug. 31st, 2008)

His diagnosis of myeloma cancer had been a shock, although he and I knew his weight loss might be due to some form of cancer, but his downhill dive while in the hospital (pneumonia and other infections) surprised him and all of us. He was (only) 69, and we had relatives who lived well into their 80's; he had been a career military man - strong, active, and only slightly damaged during his tours; he certainly prided himself on his strength and ability to withstand the rigors of life -- but strength finally ebbs.

As a career Army soldier, he was to be buried with military honors at a nearby veterans' cemetary. I decided to speak at his service, but I wondered what else I might do to highlight his life and help those who attended know their friend better -- the answer was, of course, to print photos of different times in his life.

His son is only 27, and never knew my brother as a young man; many of his friends who could attend had known him after his retirement from the military, and some had only recently met him during the beginning of his physical decline. Photos of him as a toddler with our mother, as an little boy holding a wooden rifle and wearing an army cap, as a young soldier - grinning while sitting on a tank or looking very serious in his official army portrait, holding his son as a baby on his shoulders at the zoo, standing next to his almost grown son and trying to look as big and strong as that big/strong son, smiling as the older, semi-retired man that he was months ago -- these images would give more people a better view of who my brother had been throughout his life.

Tears were shared, stories were shared, and with the use of photos -- more memories and aspects of his life were shared.

Take photos of your family and friends and pets and favorite places and anything else you hold dear -- they will be treasured by you as you re-live the memories, and they will be treasured by those who remain after you are gone.