On Father’s Day I removed a photo that my Mom had framed of my Dad in Army uniform to scan into my computer. The photo sat on her dresser for as long as I can remember, as long as she lived. Today I went to put photo and frame back together and there between velvet backing and cardboard, a photo of my Mom and Dad that I had never seen in my life, their engagement photo apparently. They are so young and fresh looking, gazing into their future with smiles. Their long years together, their children, their gains, their losses… all ahead of them stretching far into the unknown. It is such a sweetness to see this photo now and think about the bravery it takes for a young person to say “Yes, let’s take on life together”, they look very brave to me in this photo.
My parents were a mystery to me, my whole lifetime with them. Is it always this way? It invariably seemed that there were people hidden behind the people I saw. Maybe it was the style of parenting then, when parents had to seem so absolutely sure of everything. Perhaps that was it, I never saw doubt in them and doubt is a such large part of what makes us human. I know my doubts well as I do my husband’s and daughter’s and dear friends’ … but I never saw doubt in my parents. They projected complete assurance about faith, politics and discipline , insuring they would remain veiled strangers to their children in a subtle and essential way. There was really only one thing I knew about them. I knew they loved each other with a love that stayed freshly romantic until they died within a year of each other ,well into their eighties. Truth be told, they loved their children but they loved each other most of all. My Mom confessed to me once that Dad would come into the room where she was and extend a hand and they would slow dance, she was 82 at the time. Can you just imagine?! It makes me grin from ear to ear just to think of it. And it makes me grin some more to think that the hope they had for a lifetime of love when this photo was taken was realized.
I guess if there can be only one thing you know about your parents, this isn’t too shabby a one…and yet, how very odd that these two people that brought me into the world and had so much to do with forming the woman I would eventually become ..would be, in so many ways, strangers to me.
And then, there is this delightfully unexpected gift of a photo. I see so much in their eyes: excitement, joy, innocence… and yes, there it is, a little bit of doubt !
Hi Mom! Hi Dad! So lovely to meet you at last !!