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The family picture - Sing With Me If It's Just For Today...
If I should fall behind, Guyster, wait for me.
guysterrules
guysterrules
The family picture
 
Billy and mom


I bet that if you asked anyone what they would take from their burning home, except for loved ones and pets, their first answer would be the family photos. How many times has a barefoot mother stood in front of the devastation around her in the dark of night clutching her wedding album and baby pictures? Photos are the connective tissue to the lives we’ve led; a captured blink that defies duplication.

We kept ours in an old trunk by the front door ostensibly serving as a coffee table, but we both knew what to do should we ever smell smoke. Grab Bob, and hustle the thousand pound trunk out of the house, flames licking our heels as our adrenaline kicked into overdrive.

I’ve surrounded myself with pictures of Billy carefully placed so that everywhere I glance, I catch a glimpse. Most times, I’ll look and remember and feel as comfortable as I can in our new relationship. There are instances when the memory of that frozen moment overwhelms me, brings me to my knees. The worst feeling of all is when I feel trapped by the images; that they’re closing in on me.

I don’t know what I’d do without my pictures, not just the ones of Billy, but of Russell or my friends, the places, the inescapable emotion an image can bring. I have very little of my childhood; my mother and father are relegated to a couple of snapshots.

When my mother passed away, her brother took control of the estate and refused to share a single frame with me. The history of my family lives somewhere in a dark basement in southern Illinois, or at least I hope it does, but most likely it was tossed out. I don’t even know if that uncle is still around, or his family, and there’s an odd reluctance to find out. Maybe it’s because I feel such hurt and anger toward him that I’m afraid to let it loose.

Families have been torn apart, the sibling and extended relationships damaged because someone takes possession of what is rightfully the entire family’s heritage, captured in the shadow and fog of a photograph.

It’s time, though, to inherit my childhood, or as much of it that’s left, so the next time I find myself in southern Illinois, I’m going to call Carl Hancock, and ask him kindly if I could please have my family’s pictures.
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Comments
tedwords From: tedwords Date: February 6th, 2005 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Photos are the connective tissue to the lives we’ve led; a captured blink that defies duplication.

Well put...I wish you luck in recapturing your childhood. You're right, the past is not the exclusive domain of one family member--it belongs to the entire family.
lapalomita From: lapalomita Date: February 6th, 2005 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
so the next time I find myself in southern Illinois, I’m going to call Carl Hancock, and ask him kindly if I could please have my family’s pictures

And I hope he gives them to you, G*ddammit.

I completely understand how important photos can be & I think you phrased it beautifully.
quuf From: quuf Date: February 7th, 2005 12:07 am (UTC) (Link)
That was perfectly lovely, Terry. And I hope you get those pictures. When the big Mill Fire of '75 threatened our home, the family photos were the first thing we loaded into the van
gotu From: gotu Date: February 7th, 2005 01:17 am (UTC) (Link)
You need those pictures. I wouldn't wait until I was in the state again. I'd start nosing around now, especially if you're not sure what has become of your uncle. And, while your reluctance is perfectly understandable, you might even find something else if you get in touch with that part of your family again.

My husband's family photographs are evidentally in a barn in Covesville, VA. Who knows in what shape they are at this point? But every time we ask (which we do), we're told those photos aren't there. Who knows? I'd love to have them, though.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: February 8th, 2005 01:59 am (UTC) (Link)
You're right. I'm going to start sniffing around. Maybe his two kids, my cousins that I barely know, are around.
spigotmd From: spigotmd Date: February 7th, 2005 01:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I think that you should get those pictures. I am so glad that my mother saved out pictures from the fire we had when I was a kid. It's not much but what it is is priceless to me.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: February 8th, 2005 02:01 am (UTC) (Link)
How old were you when the fire happened? I'm glad your mother saved them, as well. A smart and instinctive woman, your mom.
spigotmd From: spigotmd Date: February 10th, 2005 11:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
about 5 or 6 I think. We lost almost everything.
cricketshay From: cricketshay Date: February 7th, 2005 01:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I hope your uncle is willing to share with you. *hugs*
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: February 8th, 2005 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)
He better!
cricketshay From: cricketshay Date: February 8th, 2005 02:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah I'd hate to have to get ugly with him. hehehhehhe
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