Unerase the Lost

Nothing wrenches the heart like accidentally erasing a memory card full of images. But all is not necessarily lost.

A few years ago, a buddy of mine’s mother was approaching her 100th birthday. She didn’t get out much any more, but she’d been to the hairdresser and had her hair Cool Whipped to perfection. She even went to the dry cleaner to get her Queen Bee formal gown pressed. The tiara she always kept gleaming.

She enlisted her friend to pick her up at her summer residence to drive her to her son’s newly remodeled home. His dinky two-bedroom gardener’s shack had been magically rebuilt into a four-bedroom palace with closets the size of shoe stores.

And her son even got a haircut. She’d been begging him to do that for 32 years. “Danny, why don’t you get a haircut? Take the money from my purse. Go on.”

I’d recently been out to shoot the new baseball stadium in town, so I brought along the shots on the Compact Flash I’d used. While we were waiting for the Queen Mum, I plugged my digicam into their television and wowed the kids with delusions of a World Series to come.

Naturally, I also brought a blank card to shoot the festivities. And, as luck would have it, I got a once-in-a-lifetime shot of mother and son—yep, a rare simultaneous smiling.

The next morning, before any cup of anything could clear the cobwebs from my head, I deleted the wrong card. “No,” I said. “I didn’t.”

Oh, yeah, I did. But I was confident I could recover the data from the card. I’d done it with ...

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