Saturday, August 8, 2009

Dad's pictures

This one is dedicated to my Uncle Andy.

There were photos of him in groups with other young men. Sometimes in some classroom holding up an object that obviously had meaning to them. A few in what is obviously a dorm room, filled with beds, dressers, and desks piled up with technical equipment. Pictures of him with a small sailboat, on a lake I don’t recognize, with his little brother. He was happy in almost every one of these pictures, laughing and active and strong.

Dad had always been secretive and reticent about his past and his family, except for the basic details. It didn’t seem to be motivated by shady reasons, he just never seemed interested in telling us much, even when we asked. He always said he preferred to live in the present, that he couldn’t remember all those old stories and didn’t want to. What he didn’t realize was that, in some ways, he was denying us crucial bits of our history, details that could help us shine a light on our parents and why they were the people they were. Not only personal details about our family of origin, but also illuminating facts about events in the past and cultural history. These were stories about our family that now we would never hear, never understand, and to me, that was a great loss. Maybe as he traveled back in time in his mind, details would come out, like scraps of paper, about his life. I only had to be there to pick them up and smooth them out and read.

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