Snapshot brings back memories of when ‘I’ had no meaning for me

by | Sep 20, 2018 | Memoir, Relationships | 14 comments

Yesterday, Jim and our son-in-law, Roger, were setting up my new Samsung smart TV, which made me recall the long-ago days when all you had to do was turn on a TV, and you were good to go. If nothing of interest was available, you turned the little “tube” off and went for a walk, planted peas or carrots, wrote a letter, took a snapshot with a Brownie or Polaroid, pulled out a craft project (remember macrame? paint by numbers?) or called a friend.

When I was reflecting on this and watching Jim and Roger consider the functions of various cables that had lurked behind the old Sony (which could no longer handle the more powerful signals coming from Comcast) a tiny black-and-white snapshot taken of Kathy, Mary Ruth and me fell from a nook somewhere. It dropped like a solitary leaf drifting to the ground. I lifted it from the carpet and smiled. I was three years old when it was taken, the age my granddaughter, Ava, is right now.

I took a photo of the snapshot with my iPhone so I could share it here. Kathy’s on the left; I’m in the middle; Mary Ruth is on the right. With us, it was shenanigans 24/7, and whenever I speak about those early days, a time when we sisters and television were all new, I always say “we.” I was part of a tiny triumvirate and had no concept of “I.”

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  1. Sara Baker

    sweet story, Laura. Thanks for sharing your memory of a simpler time. I, too, was part of a triumvirate except with two brothers. I sometimes miss those simpler televisions and the few choices we had to make. And if we didn’t like something viewing, we were content to do something–and didn’t necessarily have to be entertained. :-)

  2. Susan Dacenko Callis

    Dear Laura,
    I remember feeling like I knew what my sisters felt emotionally, but I didn’t know what I felt at all. I felt like I could tell you what my sisters had been through. And then there were many various acquaintances who would mistake me for a sister of mine. We do resemble each other. Individuation is a melodious word.

  3. Laura

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, dear Susan. I’m intrigued by what you said about knowing what your sisters felt and not knowing what you felt. Something I almost always never knew was what I wanted. I didn’t think I had a right to want anything other than what I had, so on rare occasions when someone asked me what I wanted, I was unable to answer. The notion was foreign to me. … My sisters and look a lot alike, and the resemblances grow stronger as we age.

  4. Laura

    Thanks for your appreciation, Sara. Are you still close to your brothers? My sisters and I are great friends, and for that, I feel blessed. … I’m happy we had so many simple, down-to-earth experiences in our formative years. It seems to take great effort to keep things simple these days. (I say this while watching an episode of Orange Is the New Black on my new smart TV.)

  5. Beth Ann Mathews

    What a moving and insightful reflection. One of my favorite phrases: like a solitary leaf drifting to the ground.

  6. Laura

    Thank you, Beth, for your encouraging, supportive comment

  7. Paige Adams Strickland

    Awww…..I love it when old photos and other memorabilia send messages like that. P.

  8. Susan Dacenko Callis

    As the youngest I was often in the position of sitting and listening while my older sisters spoke of their tribulations and achievements while on their career paths in Education and Science. If my oldest sister wanted to read her original poem out loud, all of her younger sisters were her captive audience. Her perspective was, no doubt, more important than mine, or at least more captivating. So I learned to understand her perspective. As each of my sisters came of age … married … traveled … I was left behind.

  9. PH Garrett

    You have that magical way of moving me around the universe with your words. Thanks for this trip back to gentler times. I remember my little sister and the endless Monopoly games we played on our sunroom floor. They’d go on for days and days. “Cables that lurked,” brought me right back to our new order of living. Quite the trip you took me on.

  10. Laura

    Thank you, PH, for appreciating my post and for sharing the memory of your sister. I can picture the two of you playing Monopoly on the floor. … I’m glad you liked my use of “lurked” too. We writers have tools like personification that can work like magic wands to add meaning to a scene.

  11. Laura

    Thank you, Paige!

  12. Laura

    I was the youngest of three, Susan, and experienced some of what you did. My sisters and I were closer in age than you and your sisters were, but oh did I ever feel left behind when first Kathy, then Mary Ruth left for college.

  13. Susan Dacenko

    Dear Laura,

    Coronavirus is dominating the news. However, my own life has been stable and I am in good health. I have read descriptions of folks having “mild” symptoms and perhaps they have the antibodies now. If any flu like issues were with you, I think you’ll have created antibodies for resilience.

  14. Laura

    I’m very glad you’re in good health, Susan. I hope those who’ve had COVID-19 and recovered do have long-term immunity. I think there’s not enough data available on that yet.

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