Thursday, August 9, 2012

a long time ago,

 in a galaxy far, far away...


when i was very small, mother’s parents visited. with them came my aunt and my cousin. all together there were eleven of us. being small and shy, i stuck close to dad.

papa decreed there should be a snapshot of all of us, excepting him. he was to take the snapshot. the preparations were made, with all the people shuffled about a few times. mostly, the grownups were settled on the sofa. the children were placed on the floor, at their feet.

dad sat in his rocky, swivel chair. i fussed until the camera and people and papa were ready. with papa barking orders and all the people trying to settle, dad scooped me up and kept me on his lap in the chair. he spoke quietly in my ear. sit back he said. i don’t want my picture i said. i don’t want it either he said. then why i said. sit back he said my chair is magic.

i sat back and he leaned his rocky swivel chair back as far as it would go. i was reclined along dad quite comfortably. while we waited for papa to finish his preparations, dad kept me busy by holding me close and making his magic chair rock, swivel and spin. i felt a little apprehensive. these were different kinds of movements for me.

the snapshot was made, and i was released to my feet. i followed mother and my sister into the kitchen to get underfoot while dishes were cleaned and put away. more than once i was told to go play. more than once, i did not.

a long, long, long time later, i came across that snapshot. the eyes of my cousin were red. the twins smiled brightly, showing some missing teeth. mother, aunt and grandmother sat like clones, all with hands folded and feet crossed the same way. my sister was beautiful and my brother looked as if he couldn’t wait to get away. dad and i were reclined comfortably in the magic chair. i did not smile.

i had forgotten about that day until the snapshot reminded me. i was reminded that dad always kept me close and safe and comfortable. and even though i was an afterthought in that house to most… dad kept me up front, in the snapshot, in his mind and in his heart. while things changed and people and places changed, my dad was always the same. he was aware of me and my feelings and my heart. he always talked to me, even if he couldn’t answer all the questions. one thing i always knew, through all the turmoil, was that my dad loved me. every day.

i wrote and posted this on a blog i started in 2007. i never posted much there. but i was reminded of it today and went to look. when i saw this, i also remembered that well after 2007, marisa sent me the picture in question. 

i wrote this little piece without the picture at hand, from my memory of the picture...

it looks to me like it was taken just as the shit was hitting the fan. peggie, tell me if you think you can pinpoint a year. carol, if you read this, please show the picture to jonathon.  i would also like to know from peggie, jonathon and peter, if possible, what your memories are of this day...

i want to add, that i always knew my sister, peggie, loved me too. as stressed or overworked as she was, when it came down to brass tacks, she really did do her best to make life easier for me. 


  1. Nancy-
    Dad says he has trouble remembering what he did this morning, let alone what happened approximately 50 years ago. He says MAYBE 1965, Linden Johnson was pres and Kennedy had been assassinated 2 years earlier.
    But he laughed when I showed him the picture and said "where the HELL did you find that?!"

    Love Britty

  2. thanks britty. i was wondering if any of you guys ever looked at my blog!

  3. I have to agree with (my brother) Jonathon on this one but I'd say it was 1966, and it was taken in the living room at 397 Tilden road... I do not think I was in high school yet..and I can't remember why Papa was so insistent about having the pic, but .... you're probably right... its just before the time things started to go downhill...

    1. i was just wondering if it was a holiday. we dont seem dressed up enough for church, so it probably wasnt easter. i cant really tell if there is snow on the ground, but everybody seems to be wearing winter-y type clothes...i guess it could be thanksgiving, but would we be wearing everyday clothes on thanksgiving?

      maybe papa and grandmother just came by to torture us all and dragged poor ann and aunty muriel along for kicks and grins...

  4. What a fascinating picture!!! I had to look really hard to catch your mom and dad, but I had no trouble with the kids (except which twin was which). What a great memory for all of you!

  5. Pictures like these give me mixed feelings. On one hand, it is fun to see the various family resemblances. Then I get to thinking how young and healthy my dad looked in this picture. How handsome he was. Then I start getting pissed off thinking, which one of these people do I get to direct my anger at for f-ing up not only their childhood and their lives but mine and my sister's as well? Such a waste, that healthy and smiling body that was taken away from us far too soon in such a terrible manner. Is it not sad that a third generation is still dealing with the hurt, anger and confusion that was generated decades before they were even born? I wish that I could punch someone but there is no one left alive to punch.


    Then I start thinking, it's not going to catch me too, whatever it was that consumed these once fine, no the buck stops here. No more. Nor my children, or their children either. The cycle will end with me.

    Anger aside, my dad was my favorite person in the world. He taught me how to fish, whistle, chop wood, appreciate music, and he began my interest in photography and writing. It was he who started my interest in books, which I now devour, and it was he who always just seemed to get me before he began to get sick. Despite all that we went through, I still wish he were here today. The healthy Bruce, not the sick one who stole my true father away before we even knew he was gone. I am now left to only imagine what could be, my dad walking me down the aisle, my dad helping me work on my first house, my dad teaching my children how to whistle and fish and build too-large campfires...

  6. we will just have to carry on the tradition of too large fires... i don't know where though. i think they have us blacklisted at fransted.

    as for all the crap that ruined the fine people...i can't answer that here. but i do have my suspicions.

    i'll put it all down somewhere, someday.

  7. I love old pictures of the family... provided I am not in them...

    (Shudders to think of the 80's bad hair and the even worse glasses...)


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