It sits on the very top shelf of the bookcase, gathering dust. To get it down I have to climb on a chair though my knees are weak and I am not as limber as I once was. Black marker on a torn piece of masking tape stuck on its front cover says that it is mine, made for me by my mother twenty-odd years ago when I thought I had lost all my family albums.
Remembrances of yesterdays –
1968- a black and white, 5 X 7, a family portrait taken the summer after I graduated from high school and was to start college and before my older brother got drafted and ended up in Vietnam. Seven of us smile back to someone or something stage right. We were all younger, thinner, more naïve back then. If I could go back in time, what would I say to each of them? Would they listen?
1973 – a faded 8 X 10 wedding picture done in some golden hue that was supposed to make everything look romantic. It is one of the few I did not rip into pieces and throw into the fireplace. The dreams and the promises of that day are as faded as the portrait. To regret that marriage and wish it had never happened would be to regret my three children. To regret that fated relationship would be to regret the lessons learned.
1953 – a 3 X 5, black and white studio picture of a little sister smiling at her frowning brother. She steals the show as he watches. Now that he is gone there is no way to make up for lost time and lost moments.
1975 – a small Polaroid of three smiling women and a baby. My mother holds my son in his baptismal outfit. My grandmother and I stand beside her. The baby stares at the camera and the commotion, not realizing the importance of the four generations, not realizing that we live on through our children.
1992 – a color photo captures a young boy (ten or so) holding a Spurs jersey up to his chest. Christmas wrappings lie everywhere. A very young (and thin) me smiles at him. It is obvious that I love him.
1957 – a black and white school photo, wallet size, of a little girl in a Catholic school uniform. I smile into the camera, oblivious of the missing teeth and the terrible home perm my mother gave me. I don’t care. Life for a second grader is nothing but great.
1950 – a home photo, black and white, with a beautiful embroidered edge. A six-month-old, barefoot baby girl in a pink sundress fights to stand. Nothing will keep her down. My handsome daddy, always the gentleman, offers his arm and I accept eagerly. I cannot wait to get on with this life. I cannot wait to live and learn and love.