I’ve been shuffling through sacks of old photos. Photos I stole — yes, stole — from my mother’s house in 2003. Let’s call it research. It’s always surprising when these photos (a) spark up a memory I didn’t know I had, or (b) twist my memory around my rock-hard head to see the women I loved most from shifting perspectives.
Funny, I don’t recall ever seeing it before, but that’s not possible. Or is it? When I was stealing all those photos, I’d grabbed them by the handfuls, like a starving kid stealing penny candy, and stuffed them into a box. A box I only recently opened. So yes, it is possible. Years after she was gone I learned that her favorite place to go when she needed to escape was to the river. And right there by the Mississippi she is.
I wonder who the photographer is. I think she likes him.
Without this one picture, I would never describe her this way. Without this picture, I remember a frantic, loud, stressed-out woman, a woman too young to look so old, a woman all wrung out. Without this picture, I don’t recall her ever hugging me.
Today, for the first time, I notice the Thanksgiving Dinner table. I suddenly realize she is 5 years older than I am now. And I forgive her more.
What happens when you look at an old photo that disagrees with the long-running film in your head?