Thursday, November 24, 2011

Every Picture Tells (part of) a Story


Scanning the many hundreds of my dad's negatives has raised many questions in my mind. I was surprised at first, because he and I were close and often talked about his life before I was born. I thought I at least knew the names of most of his cast of characters, but if I did at one point, I've forgotten many of them now. I'm curious about the names, but only slightly. There are other questions, however.....

In the photo above, my mom has her arm around my cousin Barbara Joan. I wrote about Barbara Joan a couple of years ago. She was the only child of my father's sister, Babe. I didn't know Barbara Joan except through pictures, and I've never seen her smile. It seems safe to say she was an unhappy child. In photographs, my mother is often affectionate with her. No doubt she was aware that Barbara Joan's childhood was lacking. It certainly was in my mother's nature to do what she could to make the girl feel loved.

I don't know why I never asked my dad about Barbara Joan. Maybe I did and he finessed it. I know the circumstances of her death at age 20 were rather hush-hush. One thing I do know is that after her daughter died Babe started drinking heavily, and died not long after from cirrhosis of the liver. After my daughter Gillian died, I found myself craving alcohol for the first time in my life. I remembered what happened to Babe, and made a rule for myself: No drinking alone. Since I was alone most of the time, that saved me. Eventually the craving subsided, but I'll always be grateful for my beautiful Aunt Babe's lesson.

My mother's other hand is linked through Barbara Joan's father's arm. I didn't think we liked him, but maybe that came later. Or maybe we're just seeing a manifestation of my mother's kind heart. Questions, questions.....