Today, I dug out a box of old black and white photos looking for a picture of my mother with me as a baby. I managed to find one slightly out of focus that was dry and curled with age.
Along with that one, there were pictures of my brother and sister as children, pictures of my father, my maternal grandfather, and grandmother, my aunts, and my cousins. Pictures from before I was born or during the time I was a baby. Times I don’t remember.
Pictures of picnics and family gatherings, the smiling faces of people I never really knew or didn’t know long enough. I was the last addition to the family, born thirteen years after my sister and fifteen years after my brother. We moved away from extended family when I was three years old, so I grew up without those family picnics and gatherings. It must have been hard for my mother to leave that family behind and move her children all the way across the country when my father took a job in Arizona.
I spent time today really looking at the faces in the pictures, studying the poses and the candid captures. I began to see a little of myself in each of those pictures. Physical characteristics from my mom and dad of course but more than that I could see the roots of my personality.
In one particularly fun photo, there is my sweet and funny Aunt Mary pretending to ride on her mother’s (my grandmother) back. Of all my relatives, I knew my Aunt Mary best and loved her so much. She always projected ‘happy’ even though she suffered some serious health issues. She laughed a lot. I’d like to think that there is some of that in me.
I’ve always felt a little detached from family but today I found the thread that binds us. There are the eyes that look like mine,the smile that I see in the mirror, the mannerisms I instinctively display. There is my sometimes silly personality.
There in the faded monochrome history is me.