Friday, July 18, 2008


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I hesitated to use this picture, and I'm still sort of ambivalent, for many reasons. First and foremost, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or bring up touchy subjects. So, if you're one of those people who might be hurt, I'm sorry; feel free to stop reading. Truthfully, I suddenly remembered it was Friday (here in the Land of the Lost of Summer Vacation, all the days sort of run together, and they're all identical), so I went scrambling downstairs for a photo album. I wanted an oldie, and when I opened the album, this one was tucked inside the front cover. My original is in a cheesy, paper, wood grain frame that is very 70's, but I decided not to scan that.

So, why this picture, besides it being the first one I came to? (I did flip through, looking for other options, but this one stuck.) For one thing, I have always loved this picture--I have no idea where it was taken, or what the occasion was, but that's not important. Other than a wedding photo, it might be the only picture I have (or even have seen) with both my mom and my dad in it. Now, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change the way things are now for the world--there's a lot I would have missed out on if that idyllic picture had continued throughout my life. I definitely wouldn't be the same person, and some of the most important people in my life wouldn't be around, if Mom and Dad had stayed together, so that's NOT what I'm wishing for. Things were obviously still good here--everyone looks happy, and from the date (which I just discovered today), I can tell several things--that I was five days away from my third birthday (almost exactly the same age Andrew is now) and that my mom was around four months pregnant with my brother Greg.

What I do regret, and possibly even mourn for, is the fact that a few short years (about three, I guess) after this was taken, the whole thing turned sour. And while I don't remember this day or any other happy childhood occasions involving both parents (even our wedding was chock-full of tension for me), I do sort of remember the idea of it--vaguely. I still can't, for the life of me, understand how people who obviously loved each other at one point in time and who had two children together get to the point where they despise each other. I understand anger, sorrow for the loss of the marriage, and even discomfort, but hatred?

Even before Andrew was born, I set out with this noble aspiration of having a united family for his sake. I didn't, and still don't, want him to grow up knowing the animosity his grandparents have for each other. So for his first birthday, I insisted on a joint party--all the grandparents here, at our house. He won't remember that, other than what he sees on video or in pictures, but I will. While no one was happy about it, they sacrificed their own feelings for a little while and toughed it out. And maybe, just maybe, my insistence on everyone being at the same place was for myself and not my son, because I wanted at least one happy memory of my parents together.

As Andrew's third birthday approaches and we start planning the party (or parties), I'll have to consider the pros and cons. Is it good for my parents to put their own thirty-year old feud to rest for a couple of hours? Probably. Is it good for my brother and me to have that fleeting taste of togetherness and what might have been under different circumstances? Maybe so. Will Andrew understand what's going on, or even notice that it's the only time he's ever seen them all together? Doubtful. But maybe, just maybe, he'll know ten or twenty years from now exactly what was involved, and he'll have the memories, even if I don't. ---T

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