Tell Ruth the Truth

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My Family Photo Makes Me Feel Guilty

Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I have two photographs of my parents and me. One is a candid shot, in color, taken by my great grandfather right after I was born. My dad is holding me and smiling at the camera. My mom is looking down at me and smiling, with her beautiful blonde hair bundled in the "beehive" style that was popular then. The other is black and white photo, professionally taken in a studio. My dad is wearing a dark suit and tie. My mom is wearing her long blonde hair down the side, over her shoulder, in full view of the camera. We're all smiling and looking just beyond the camera, at the photographer I suppose. I don't remember the occasion. I was probably about two when it was taken. They are the only two photos I have of me with my parents.

After their divorce, they both remarried later and started new families. Their lives spread further and further apart. Each new family consumed their time and energy. Each ignored the other, and therefore ignored 1/2 of my family. As the odd man out in their new families, we never had family discussions about my relatives or cousins on the other side, although discussions about the new children's relatives and cousins were standard fare. So it seemed perfectly natural to remain silent about my family on the other side. Perfectly natural, yet somehow unjust. The other family was good enough for me, but not good enough for them. There is a certain immorality about such a message.

I feel guilty when I look at the photos. I'm not supposed to want that. Yet I do.


 
 
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