The top photograph is of my grandfather by his creek. The bottom left is a photograph of me and my sisters father. The bottom right is a photograph of my father holding my mothers dog.
The frilly framed photograph is the possession I’ve had the longest. I’ve had it for just about forever. It seems strange that I’ve kept it all these years, especially since I don’t like the man in the picture. It’s a relic in a way. Strange that my mother chose an image of this man and I, rather than an image of her and I. Maybe she thought I should have a picture of a “dad”. I thought he was my dad for about thirteen years. Then I found out he wasn’t, which was more shocking than anything else. I’d never met the man, not since I was four. So why lie about it? That was my first thought. I really couldn’t see the point. Maybe she didn’t want me to know that my sister and I were half sisters. Maybe she didn’t want me to know…well I don’t know. Who knows what my mother didn’t want me to know.
I reunited with the man in the frilly framed photograph when I was 20. Him and my sister and I went out for dinner- it was supposed to be this big reunion. It didn’t go well. In fact, I couldn’t stand him. But I kept the picture, ugly frame and all. It still seems important for some reason. When I look at it, it reminds me who I am.
I recently acquired the picture of my father holding the dog. My mother gave it to my aunt to give to me a week before she died. Until then I’d never seen any pictures of my father. I look so much like my mother that I’d not cared too much. I didn’t care too much until I received a picture of a squat man in a depressing apartment. Then I was angry. I didn’t realize I was craving something more until I got less. Not much of a grand finale. I waited 23 years for a picture of this totally mediocre looking person. Jesus Christ. I remember when I was in university I found these amazing pictures of one of my mothers old boyfriends. He was hilarious looking in a famous and eccentric sort of way. At the time I thought those were pictures of my father and mother together- and I was happy to have found them. I can’t say I was too thrilled about this picture though, and I was even less thrilled by the note on the back. “You have his ears, hee hee.” Worst punchline ever. Why didn’t she send me a picture of an astronaut or someone glamourous? I’m half joking. I didn’t realize that after all these years of deciding not to care it turns out I actually do (a little). I’ve been unconsciously piecing together an image of this man from scraps of information I’d collected throughout the years. The way I felt seeing this photograph is similar to the way I feel when I’ve read a book and then go to see the movie and hate the choice of actors. It didn’t match up, my mother was a shitty casting director. Ugh.
The picture of my grandfather is the hardest to look at because I knew him the best out of the three. Not only is this the hardest photo to look at but it’s also the hardest photo to write about. It shouldn’t be that way. I know countless stories about him and I’ve seen countless images of him. I can count the things I know about the other two men on my fingers. With my grandfather I have a lifetime of memories, a history. So much to draw on. But grief can leave you blank, and then sometimes you’re afraid of unravelling.
In the photograph he’s standing in one of his favorite places. Which coincidentally became one of my favourite places. Out of the three men he’s the only one I knew, and was probably the only one worth knowing anyway. I’ve had these three photographs for a while now. This is the first time I’ve looked at them all together.
my perspective/her perspective
I’m working on a new side project about my mother. These two images were taken in 2009 when my sister and I went to see my mother for the first time in ten years. We went to the Old Spaghetti Factory and I brought my camera. She asked if she could take a photo, and so did I. The two images are reunited here under unusual circumstances. My mother recently passed away, and I found her photo from that dinner in her online obituary. The constant switching between the two images mimics how the dinner felt for me- uncomfortable and tense. The length of time the image appears is, in my opinion, how long you can politely look at someone. Openly staring at someone is rude- which is probably why we both took a picture. You can analyze a picture in private, and look at it with people who weren’t there.
This is a work in progress- more coming soon. Feedback would be amazing and helpful.