Sunday, January 2, 2022

A picture is worth a thousand words

I hate having my picture taken
I never know how to stand, what to do with my hands and I can't for the life of me figure out where to look
Which is why almost every photo of me is pretty much a natural disaster
But there are three photos of myself I have always loved:
One is my first or second grade school picture
I mostly love it because of my outfit
I was rocking a corduroy dress layered over a flowed shirt with the neck scarf to match
It was 1978,could have been '79 (outside chance it was 1980) and I made it work
I was smiling sweetly with my hands clasped, shoulders up and my head ever so slightly inclined giving me quite a pious, bordering on mischievous, look
Said photo is in my parent's basement in one of those little plastic frames
Someday, I'll swipe it
The second is a head shot of me when I was probably a year or two old
It was taken by either Cousin Mike or Cousin Maria, you'd have to ask my Mum, she'd remember
I had a shock of curly black hair and a darn tooting cute smile
I'm sure that photo is kicking around Mum and Dad's house somewhere and longs to be framed
I used it as my senior picture in my 1990 yearbook mostly because it never occurred to me to have my senior photos done and there was a deadline looming
The third photo is a black and white photo my cousin Maria took
Again, I am a year or two old at most
I'm pointing at the camera whilst clutching a plastic record in my other hand
Said record comes from the 1971 Fisher-Price Change-A-Record Music Box, commonly known as the Fisher-Price Record Player
It had 5 playable records, a song on each side, and you could store the records right inside the record player
The state of the art carrying handle made for tunes on the go and I could rock out to Hickory Dickory Dock, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star London Bridge , Oh Where has My Little Dog Gone and Camptown Races any time I wanted (just to name a few)
I loved that record player and I'm pretty sure it was around the house for most of the seven Kearns kids to enjoy
I'll tell you what was not around though: my Windup Apple Novelty Bank with the hungry worm who ate the pennies
Someday I'll tell you that story which will also shed light on why the Little Drummer Boy makes my brother and I cry
Cousin Maria snapped the photo of me toddling around in my bubble suit with the same said shock of dark curly hair, chubby cherub like cheeks and what can only be described as a shit-eating grin on my face
The picture was matted and I remember it sitting on my mother's dresser for years
Then it would tucked away in a drawer in a pile with photos of my brother and sisters
It was never framed, just a photo fixed to a matting board
Over the years, from being shifted from place to place and handled by different people, it had started to get a bit beat up around the edges and showing it's age (not unlike it's subject...)
Whenever my mother comes across this photo, or the other headshot, she takes great delight in telling me what a pretty baby I was and how even the doctor who delivered me exclaimed over my eyes and my hair and my Clara Bow lips (I grew out of all three)
How he passed me around the delivery room declaring me to be the prettiest baby he had ever delivered
He was so enamored, Mum said, he wanted to take me home for his own
Mum keeps the the story going with the anecdote of the photographer from Boston who spotted me in the back seat of the car bundled up in my white furry coat and asked if he could take my picture because he was sure I could be a baby model (she said no)
The tale grows taller as she makes the bold declaration that my older brother was a perfect baby until I came along because amongst other things, I taught him to climb out of his crib
She finishes the story by reminding me that one night I climbed
of my crib 103 times (could have been 73 or 93, I can't remember)
And 103 times (could have been 73 or 93, I still can't remember) she scooped me up and laid me back down until I was so tired I finally gave up and went to sleep
Or did she finally get tired and fall asleep?
Nonetheless, the sight of both photos (and photos of my siblings) triggers a trip down memory lane for my mother
It is a trip I am happy to take with her over and over again
I love hearing the stories
It makes me realize how lucky I am to still have her, how lucky we were that someone was there to capture those moments and luckier that Mum remembers them and reminds me so I do not forget
Mostly I love seeing her face light up then contort with laughter and hearing the lilt and nostalgia in her voice as she relives the memories as if they just happened a few short days ago
We took a quick trip up after after Christmas as we typically do and celebrated what we have come to call second Christmas with them
After gifts were exchanged and exclaimed over, my mother disappeared down the hall
She came back a few minutes later clutching what was clearly a framed picture or piece of art work to her chest
I expected her to show off a gift she had received but instead, she started getting all excited and telling me how pleased she is with how this picture came out
They did such a beautiful job she said and he was so nervous because he did not want to ruin it .....
Show me! I say
And then she says well, I was going to wait until this summer.....
you know for your birthday
(it's a big one, I'm turning 50....I thought I had a few more years but turns out it's coming up in August)
And, she says, I love it so much, I almost don't want to give it up...
Finally, with a giggle and a grin, she flips the frame around so I can see it
It makes me catch my breath and my eyes fill with tears
And Mum starts the story of what a pretty baby I was.....