Monday, May 19, 2008

Laughter, Tears and the Crippled Old Man

I'm going through my mother's old photographs.  And, her mother's.  And, her grandmother's.

The box is filled with photos of all kinds, shapes, sizes, colors, sepia, black and white, poloroids, snapshots, and studio shots.  The faces smile back at me as I study their eyes and noses for familial similarities.  Twenty-five, fifty, a hundred years separate me from the picture takers and their subjects.  

The radiant child about my son's age frolicking in the Atlantic waves is my Baby Boomer sister.  The young marrieds, fresh with promise and standing inside their corner grocery are my deceased grandparents.  My birth announcement in the paper, yellowed and torn with age.  Christmas cards from people I do not know, and photographs of people we no longer contact.  The testament to a family's history basically reduced to archeological supposition by the youngest in the family who was born long after the clans disbanded.

On a lighter note, I found one that gave me a laugh sending tears rolling down my face.  If my sister had been there, we would have been in silent hysterics for a full half-hour I guarantee it.  As it was, I had a pretty good run myself.  I found this photo of a man I do not know, older than my grandparents and on crutches.  Someone had given him a cake to hold, not just a little cake, but  a large, round two-layer frosted cake on a--get this--glass cake server, the kind with a thick pedestal.  

"Here's your cake, crippled old man!"

How he kept from tipping over is beyond me.  But, maybe that was the last picture before they took him to the hospital.  

Okay, maybe you had to be there with me in the moment.  I will scan the image and post it here, then you can see and judge for yourself.  It's weird, too, because there were other people around--I've seen the other photos.  So,  how did someone design that particular one?!  Give the little old man on crutches a thing half his weight to hold while he's trying in vain just to stand up?!?  

My family went insane sixty years ago and we've never since been normal.

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