Friday, August 30, 2013

The Only One

My father is an only child who's mother passed away when he was twelve. Her name was Marie and she died 23 years before I was born but my parents gave me her name as my middle name. There aren't many photos from my dad's side of the family, but I treasure the ones we have.

Years ago I was looking through some of the photos and I came across an unusual one. It was a small photo of my father sitting in between my grandparents holding the family dog. The frame was very old and seemed heavy and awkward. I asked my father about it and he told me that it wasn't actually a picture frame at all. It was an old clock that had stopped working. Rather than repair it, my grandfather took out all the internal mechanisms and inserted the photograph. I feel in love with it right then and there. Not only was it a beautiful photo but it resided in a frame that my grandfather had made. He loved the clock so much that he wanted to use it to hold a family photo.

The last time I saw my grandfather was when I was twelve years old. He lived in Wisconsin and his house seemed like it was filled with magic. The two story house was old and it was stuffed with relics from the past. I had never seen so many antiques packed into one place before. It was interesting because they belonged to him and everything had a story.

I remember when we visited I stayed in the room in the attic, which had been my father old bedroom. It was hot because their was little air circulation from the rest of the house. I found a box with a desk fan from the 60's which had never been opened. I pulled out the fan - it had these bright blue translucent blades and it was in perfect condition. I plugged it in and worked flawlessly. I also found one of the purses my grandmother used to have. My grandfather had kept it all those years. When I opened it I found a tube of her lipstick that was half used. The tip was shaped by the angle she held it at her mouth when she applied it. I also found her emergency card with instructions on how to take care of her diabetes if she every became ill while she was out. I remember sitting in the attic with tears rolling down my cheeks. The only thing I ever had from my grandmother was her name. To sit there and hold something that she had with her everyday was beautiful. I never felt so close to my grandmother.

I felt the same way when I held the old clock that my grandfather had turned into a picture frame. He passed away a few years after we had visited him. His house was sold and we only had a few things left that belonged to him. The most meaningful one to me was the clock he loved enough to re-purpose into a frame for a family photo. I loved the photo of my family but I also loved it even more because it was in something that he worked on.

For years I had it proudly displayed my room. When I moved to Orlando it moved with me. Eight moves in under ten years and that photo has always been in a place of honor.

Recently my parents came to visit me and my father noticed the photo. He hadn't seen it in years. He held it in his hands and said "Take good care of this. It is the only photo of me and my parents together."

"Really?" I was shocked "This is the only photo of you, grandma, and grandpa together?"
"Yes" He said "This is the only one."

I guess it was hard for me to believe at first. Cameras are so pervasive today but they were far less common and much more expensive when my father was a child. I had loved this photo all these years and I am still finding out how unique and special that it truly is.


The photo of my grandfather, father, and grandmother from April 1959. Approximately one year before my grandmother passed way. My father, who was eleven at the time, is holding the family dog Terry in his lap. (We love to tease my mother about this because her name is Terri). They are sitting on the couch that was in the living room in their house in Wisconsin. The photo was taken by family friends and you can see their reflection in the mirror above my grandparents heads as well as the flash that went off when the photo was taken.

I chose to shoot this photograph on the sidewalk outside of my apartment. To me it has become a beautiful symbol of the passing of time. The photo was taken in black and white in Wisconsin in 1959, placed in an antique clock by my grandfather and kept all these years. It was taken down to Florida and it now kept by me - the oldest grandchild the one who is named after my grandmother.

No comments:

Post a Comment