Thursday, February 24, 2011

Old Photographs

I came through the back door of my house last night with some groceries.  We’d been to Publix grocery store that I’ve written about before.  It’s nice to have a choice in grocery stores.  I even have a grocery store directly across the street from me but at the same time I can see deer, wild turkey, cardinals, robins, and eagles in my back yard.  I have daffodils and crocus in my front yard.  I’m home.

It washed over me last night like a gentle breeze on a warm night.  I was home.  Not only was I home, but I had a home.  Not two places where I live, but a home.  The living room looks nice.  I could actually feel comfortable inviting you to come, sit, and have coffee with me.  The kitchen has a ways to go but looks good already.  The dining room has further to go but you’d overlook that because you know I just moved back.  Of course you’d have to navigate past the bags and boxes of trash waiting for the dump.  My half of the bedroom looks good.  The other half is waiting for the next episode of Hoarders.  I guess a coffee visit will have to wait though; I have too much work to do to sit and chat for too long.

where it all started
I have so many pictures to put up on walls.  I don’t think I have enough walls.  We have such a large family that I probably cover several walls floor to ceiling.  However, I got the prize photograph today.  The very pleasant FedEx guy just delivered a 20x30 print of a family picture we took last year in Columbia Missouri in front of the A. P. Green Chapel where my husband and I along with my three children started our lives together.  Tomorrow it will be 33 years since that day.  Tomorrow will also be the one year anniversary of my mother’s reunion with my dad in heaven.

and still growing...
I have another picture.  It is another family picture.  I look at it every morning when I get up as it hangs in my bedroom.  It is my mother, father, my two brothers, and I.  I’m the cute baby in the high chair.  The other two people are my very favorite Tanta Bitta and her husband Arthur.   Sometimes when I look at that picture, or other old pictures, I wonder what was going on in their minds when the picture was taken.  What were their hopes and dreams?
I know my mother and father prayed fervently for the salvation and future of their children.  Neither of my brothers are men of faith.  In the end, they disrespected their mother in her last days and in death.  Of course, throughout their adult years they cared little for her.  A dutiful card and a book or a sweater for Christmas, Mother’s Day or her birthday was the extent of their care.  They never came to see her in the nursing home.  They refused to attend her funeral.  They took her life insurance money that was to be used for her burial. 

When I look at that picture, I feel sad.  A short time later, their oldest son Stanley would leave home as a runaway.  He was gone for nearly a year ending up working in a mine in Tucson Arizona at the age of 15.  In what was described to me as a “prodigal son story,” he returned home, finished high school, and went off to Bible School.  Where he lost his faith I’m not sure.  His runaway adventure was described to me as a sense of adventure.  As an adult, I don’t accept that explanation and it causes me to wonder.  No one will tell me the truth; perhaps I’ll never know what really caused a 14 year old to leave home. 

My other brother, the middle child, always looks sad in photographs.  He has always been quiet and sullen.  His hostility and anger seemed to boil over at the time of my mother’s death.  He also is a mystery to me.  Neither have ever really been a part of my life and will never be after their betrayal.

I wonder what future generations of mine will think as they look at this family portrait taken a year ago that I will hang in my living room tomorrow on my 33rd Wedding Anniversary.  I wonder if they’ll spot the sadness that was in our hearts at the death of my mother.  I wonder if they’ll be able to spot who in the family was at odds with another at the time.  

I wonder if they’ll see the hopes and dreams and prayers I have for this family.  I hope they judge us all kindly.  We have our struggles and differences, but my most fervent prayer is that we never end up like those people in the black and white.  I pray that we love each other in spite of our failings and short comings.  I pray we all see my mother and dad in heaven.  I pray we see Jesus someday.

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