July 22, 2018 — Several years ago my father paid to have all of his color slides put on disk for us. He had taken more than 500 slides between 1955 and 1969. I’m not sure why he stopped, except that my brother and I both had Brownie cameras by then and I suspect he thought our pictures were sufficient. I wish he had kept taking them, though my teenage years are best left undocumented.
My mom, who passed in 2012, gave us the best birthday parties. With a July birthday, mine were probably better than my brother’s parties, whose birthday is a few weeks after Christmas.
Since my birthday is tomorrow, I looked through the pictures to find birthday pictures. I came across this treasure that I don’t think I’ve ever noticed before. It’s my first birthday. My parents lived in a small, hot, upstairs apartment in a family home. Can you imagine my petite mom carrying this 30-lb. baby up and down what has been described to me as steep and dark stairs? My parents left the stroller at the bottom of the stairs.
Things I noticed in this picture:
- My mom is wearing an apron.
- I am laser-focused on the cake.
- My fingernails, hair, and eyebrows (except for the hair color) are identical to this morning.
- The body is fairly matching, also.
- It appears there is a wallet lying on my tray table. Did they give a one-year old money? Bad idea, especially that one year old who didn’t learn to handle money until she was in her mid-forties.
- For her, my mother is tan. My grandparents had a cottage at Lake Wawasee then, and we spent much time there in the summer. In later years, Mom would get skin cancer and not enjoy the sun.
- My favorite part of the picture is that my mom’s typewriter is sitting on a table behind me. My mom typed for my dad for his entire career, tests, reports, hand-outs, whatever. Mom typed them from Dad’s horrendous handwriting. I’ve inherited that handwriting because Mom taught me to type before I learned cursive writing. I was in the first grade. Learning to type early was fantastic because I could type my “stories.” (Okay, the voices in my head.)
Fantastic to reflect on this picture sixty years later. I am grateful for many things, for a mother who loved me, for a father who still loves me, for being born into this home where I was never hungry or cold (I won’t say I was never hot, because my parents didn’t get air conditioning until I was fifty).