Two Pictures of Me

I’m not a big fan of pictures of myself — but I like this one because it brings back so many memories of a very happy trip.

Eiffel Tower, May 2017

And this one, taken last month. We taken my father for his weekly dinner at the Doubleday Cafe on Main Street in Cooperstown. After dinner, the kids were going to walk down to the lake to take some pictures. Laurel grabbed me and said, “Hey, Mary! Take a picture of me and Mom.” So she did.

Laurel and me

Yes, Laurel is taller than I am.


S is for Siblings (a pictorial essay)

First there was my father —

Ocean Grove, 1930

Actually, before my father, there was Janice Aline, a daughter who lived only a day. Little over a year later, my father was born.

Then his brother, Stewart, came along.


I showed my father the picture today and asked him to identify the person.

“That’s my brother, Stewart. He’s really smart!”

He went on to become a Supreme Court Justice in the state of New Jersey.

Next came Polly — except that wasn’t her name at first. Her given name was an old family name and she changed it to Polly.

Isn’t she cute?
I remember as a little girl thinking she was the most beautiful, most glamorous person in the whole world.

When I found out that she traveled to Yugoslavia in 1960 and worked on a road crew for the summer, she became even more legendary in my eyes.

Stewart, my father, their mother, Polly

 

Family portrait

Back row: Stewart, Polly, my father
Middle row: Penny (Stewart’s wife), my grandmother, my grandfather, my mother
Front row (and laps): my cousin Wendy, my sister Donabeth, my brother Stewart, my brother Peter

Back row: My father, my mother, Polly, Penny, Stewart (my father’s brother)
Middle row: Stewart (my brother), Peter, Donabeth, my grandmother, my grandfather, Wendy, Stewart (my cousin)
Front row: Me and my cousin Jeff

Everyone… my grandparents; my father and mother, his siblings, and their spouses; all my siblings and all my cousins

Prolific

Siblings — summer of 2016

As Brad Paisley sang, “All because two people fell in love.”

 

Old Photographs

One of my kids told me, “I pulled some pictures out of the garbage by Grampa’s chair yesterday.”

“What?!” I said.

I knew my father had been going through old photographs. It’s something he enjoys. He’ll sit there for hours sifting through and resifting.

“Hey! Have I ever shown you this one?” he’ll ask as I walk past.

I’ll pause and squint to see the glossy black-and-white snapshot in his hand. “This is the house I used to live in,” he’ll explain, and sometimes launch into a story of how his cousin lived right next door and that there was a path worn through the trees, or how he and his father hid time capsules under the floorboards or in the walls.

“This is my father,” he’ll say. “He was a pretty handsome fellow, don’t you think?”

“Here’s one of my old girlfriends,” he’ll say, and my stomach gets a little squeezy because I don’t want him thinking about old girlfriends even though I know that’s silly.

As my son was telling me about the photographs that had been in wastebasket, he looked in. “Here they are again,” he said, and he pulled several out.

I was upset and a little bewildered. Why was my father discarding these old photographs?

“I think it was just an accident,” my son said, reading the unhappy look on my face.

No, the first time could have been an accident, but twice in two days seems pretty intentional.

I’ve heard my father say, in very general terms, “I don’t know who’s going to want all this stuff.”

“What are you wondering about?” I’ll ask.

“That Johnny Damon statue,” is a common reply. He went through a period convinced that we needed to take Johnny Damon to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Surely they would want it. 

I’m not so sure.

Maybe he was thinking that no one would want these old photographs.

I looked at the most recent batch pulled from the garbage. They were all taken in Seligman, Arizona, in 1924.

The story goes that my grandfather and some friends had driven a car across the country in 1924, stopping in towns along the way to sell advertising on the side of the car and work for a short stint to earn money for the next leg of the journey.

Here’s my grandfather.  He is a handsome fellow.

This is the Harvey House where I think they stayed. I know that because my grandfather was very good about writing words on the backs of photographs to identify the picture.
Except he didn’t identify this one but I think it’s him and his friend and the car and a roadside picnic.

I’ll have to ask my uncle or my aunt.

My father’s memory is dwindling.

And his thinking is muddy.

Otherwise, I doubt he would have thrown out the pictures.

In any event, they’re safe now.

Big and Small

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My mother must have taken this picture — 1965?

I thought I had a large family when I was growing up.

My parents had five children — a nice, symmetrical boy-girl-boy-girl-boy.

Then I met my husband. He was the second of thirteen. As if that wasn’t enough, his cousin also came to live with them when her mother passed away, so really there were fourteen children in the family.  And one bathroom.

Big is a relative term.  My family was not big in comparison with Bud’s.

Bud and I have eight children — somewhere in between mine and his. Not that we planned it. We never sat down and said, “I grew up in a family of five kids. You grew up in a family of thirteen. Let’s split the difference.”

That would have been silly.

That would also have been nine.

We are just blessed. So very blessed.

When I saw on Cee’s Photography blog a challenge about Big and Small, of course I thought of family.

Really — that’s pretty much what I think about 90% of the time. Family will never be an overworked topic for me.

In particular, I thought of this photograph — my youngest and my oldest sons.

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Karl and Philip — 1998?

This was at Philip’s wedding. Karl was gaining on Philip a very little.

Karl and Philip 2007

Karl and Philip 2007

In recent pictures I found this one of Philip next to Karl while setting up a family shot. Philip’s little boy, Henry, loves his Uncle Karl.

 

Christmas 2016

Christmas 2016

But Philip is still taller than Karl.

And probably always will be.

I’ll have to keep an eye on these two, though.

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Karl is a good pillow for Henry

Who will ultimately win this Big and Small?

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Henry and Karl

Do

The very best advice ever given to me was given by my mother-in-law.

When I had just one little boy, life was fun. Oh, I thought it was hard because he didn’t sleep very well, but, all in all, it was fun. I had plenty of hands and plenty of help.

My mom, Philip, and me

My mom, Philip, and me

When I went from one to two, life just got funner.

Two artists

Two artists

Going from two to three, though, meant that I ran out of hands, but that was okay. Backpacks and front carriers worked well.

Feeding seagulls

Feeding seagulls

From three to four presented a problem. I had no where else to put a child.

Myrtle Beach - 1993

Myrtle Beach – 1993

Somewhere in that two-three-four child range, I realized I was really struggling to do this job. My mother-in-law raised thirteen children. Well, actually, fourteen, because a cousin came to live with them when her mother died. I asked my mother-in-law one day how she did it.

“You just do,” she said. That’s all there is to it.

D is for Do.

“Fred” asked me a riddle the other day, “How do you eat an elephant?”

I think he was hoping I would say, “With an elephant fork,” but I knew the answer — one bite at a time.

You just do.

You take one step forward. Then another. Then another.

That advice helped me through child-rearing, and later, in the midst of adult caregiving. Caring for someone with dementia is not unlike caring for small children.

When life is overwhelming, look around for something you can do — some small thing, a baby step you can take forward or even sideways, a tiny bite you can take of the elephant.

Do.

Family Reunion

My mother-in-law (center) surrounded by the fruits of her “do”-ing — 2011