Friday, August 08, 2008
I think the approximate date of this picture is the 12th of July; someone will have to correct me if I'm wrong. The story is a little more complicated. Granny, whose house this was, had died in February, and the house had been sitting empty for those months, other than an occasional visit from me. During those months, I had an awful sense of loneliness and sadness at the thought of the house being sold out of the family. I would come here after the school day ended to just sit on the porch swing by myself and think, and cry. I'm probably lucky that I didn't have a key to the house at that point, because being inside, with all of Granny's stuff still there as if she were just temporarily gone, may have been much worse.
Anyway, my brother Greg was getting married the day after this picture was taken; my family had decided to combine the wedding with cleaning Granny's furniture and possessions out of the house. This sounds more morbid than it was; half of the people in this picture live about five hours away, and the decision was made just to simplify things and kill two birds with one stone.
Regardless of the task at hand, this was a festive occasion. Everyone was in jovial spirits over the impending nuptials (weddings in our family are notoriously "spirited"), and though we felt Granny's absence, we all made merry to toast Greg and his future marital happiness. James is not in this picture because he was the photographer. It was a rough summer for James, and for me too, but especially for him. A month earlier he had suddenly come down with a ruptured colon, potentially life-threatening, and calling for emergency surgery to remove the affected twelve inches of colon and perform a temporary colostomy while his colon healed. He had spent a few days in ICU, and at one point during an especially rough night, we actually almost lost him. Needless to say, he recovered, and his health (although he still had the colostomy and had been an invalid for several weeks) was one good reason everyone was in good spirits.
The wedding went off without a hitch the next day, and although the marriage didn't last, through no fault of my brother's, I have happy memories of the weekend, and I hope he does too. This was actually one of the last times the whole family was together here, and for that alone, it's a special memory. James would have a small relapse after developing an abscess in his abdomen and end up back in the hospital the next week; he completely recovered and had his colostomy reversed several months later, thank goodness. Our plan this whole time was to buy Granny's house, and my family was kind enough to put things on hold while James' health rebounded. We bought the house and moved in at the end of the next summer.
This house, including the porch, has always been an extremely important part of my life, my soul. It remains a strong link to my past and some of the happiest times of my childhood; it has become the place where my son was conceived and will grow up, hopefully having his happiest times here as well. The complete family doesn't get together often because our lives get in the way, but I hope they all know that the house and the porch are spiritually as much theirs as they are mine, because of what we've all shared here. ---T