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Monday, November 22, 2004

this is how i remember you

i was visiting family with my mother this weekend. i have a large and often vague, unsymmetrical family. step-relatives and estranged relatives. relatives that are "weird" or ones that we just don't talk to right now for whatever the reason. but a few are in relatively constant contact.

when my grandparents died years ago my aunt managed to get nearly all of the family photographs. this possession was a bone of contention between her and my mother during the subsequent months, and i myself did think it was an odd type of hoarding that my aunt was guilty of. she didn't exactly share them. rather, she divvied them up the following Christmas in the form of organized albums for each of the children. my mom got one in a plastic 3-ring binder that still had the Office Depot label attached to the back cover. there was a laser printed label reading O'Sullivan on its spine and plastic sheets of photograph organizers within. that's it. our credenza of family history. we were glad to have them, but the casing was so disgusting to me that i refused to look at them for weeks.

during the last night of my visit, my mom came into the guest room with a zip-lock baggie. a huge grin warmed her eyes as she sat on the edge of my bed to interrupt my reading. look what aunt sharon just gave me! the white part of the plastic storage bag read Reen, my mother's childhood nickname. i grimmaced invisibly.

but the photos she pulled out were of me. two shots. i'm not sure where they were taken, but i appear to be about 3 or 4 and i'm playing around some kind of stained wood porch or stairway. the photographs were intriguing because i had no recollection of the day or the moment, and their alien representation of myself was startling. they grasped two distinct moments. me eyeing the camera suspiciously, on guard. then later (i assume) beaming a smile for the photographer. my white flowered dress appropriately dusty and my long hair tussled from the climbing and running i certainly had been doing. what stunned me the most, after the warmth of reminiscing, was a subtle sadness that came. this little girl, who looked remarkably as i look today, was someone i'd never know. she looked like somebody's little girl. a child i'd love to take to the park or make funny faces with just to receive that smile in return. i wanted to be the reason that pout turned to giggles. i was sad because i didn't know her.

i love this photo because this is how i remember you. my mother said, taking the pictures back for herself to view once again.


At 11/27/2004 01:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just winced for two reasons: one, your reaction to viewing the photo, and two, your mother's final comment. How did you physically and verbally react to her comment?

I have such a photo in my possession, which I kept in my office for a while. My father, who couldn't have been more than 23, holds either me or my brother (I can't tell which, as we're too small to tell and I haven't asked either parent about it yet) at arm's length above his head, a lovely, new-father grin lighting up his face. He stands in his work shortsleeves in the driveway of our first farm. It's a profile photo from at least 20 feet off.
If only his thoughts and feelings at that moment could've been captured as well!

Wonderful post, woman.


At 11/27/2004 02:13:00 PM, Blogger kristine said...

thanks chica.

it wasn't really a nagative comment, but it made me feel like an outsider. like i never knew this little girl that everyone else loved. it was strange and unsettling. but not because my mother was wishing i was still that child, but because i think i did.


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