Sunday, August 14, 2005

Photographs and Memories

In my genealogy program, where I have stored all the information I have gathered, I also have the capability to do slide shows of scanned photos. I have several of my parents and a few here and there of other ancestors (but not many).

There's a picture of my dad that just sets me crying every single time. It's the only "baby" picture there is of him -- and he was around 18-24 months at the time. Granted, his parents were very poor, and Grandma had 3 children in less than 3 calendar years (my dad being in the middle). In this picture, he has on the cutest little pair of overalls -- they look to be corduroy -- with a little teddy bear applique on the pocket in the middle of the chest. He also has on a Peter-Pan collar shirt.

I cry because it makes me so sad to see. I wonder if the clothes were hand-me-downs from older brothers (or sisters even) or perhaps a cousin. I cry because I can picture the hardscrabble life they had, often through no fault of their own. I often wonder what that little boy in the picture must have been thinking, wondering, feeling, doing at the time.

And yet the picture makes me so proud too -- I bet no one at the time who would have seen him could have imagined that the little boy would have grown up to be a college graduate, with a productive, steady job, and a great family (not bragging, mind you). In fact, all my dad's brothers and sisters not only survived but thrived. Believe me, no "victim" mentality at all in this family.... their hard-knock life only served to drive them even more.

And that same drive has gone on to their children. We grew up with creature comforts that they only dreamed of as children -- and worked their rears off to provide as adults. Because they never got to complete their education, we were told we had to -- and 9 of the 14 grandchildren have some level of college education or completed degrees. (My father does have an associate's degree, even though he did not complete high school, which makes me all the prouder).

All things that I bet that little boy in the overalls never imagined......

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