I woke up this morning with a coughing fit so rather than continue to disturb my wife, I left our room to let her get the rest she deserves. I found myself in the living room, looking at the walls. We’re staying in her parents’ little two bedroom apartment. Her father passed last month and her mother entered the hospital a few weeks after that and won’t be coming back here.
We’ve downsized them two years in a row and this will be our third and final attempt. Downsize them to nothing. I know every piece of furniture that’s left. Every painting or photograph remaining on their ever-decreasing wall-space is very familiar to me. I’ve seen these pictures for twenty years.
There’s the picture of V’s dad with his three older sisters. I would guess it was taken in 1932 or so. All the girls became missionaries and the family didn’t really stay in touch but I like to think that at that moment, if only for a moment, the four kids were happy and loved each other.
There are two of V’s mom, one candid and one composed. The candid shot is an outdoor picture of her beaming face in the winter. She looks like she just had the ski run of her life, judging by her smile. The other is a very stylized picture of her seated on a shag rug, leaning back toward the camera and giving it her most seductive Bridget Bardot gaze. It was Montreal in the sixties, after all.
Then there are two of my wife. One from the eighties, probably late high school. If you know her well then you know she hates having her picture taken and will avoid it at almost any cost. Not here though. Two hands in her hair, posed just right, B&W.
And the last one is shot from below, looking up to the top of a children’s slide that she’s about to descend. She’s holding each handle but you can tell it won’t be for long. There’s a giddy anticipation in her face. It’s almost an action shot. She’s about three. You can see the leaves of the trees behind her are about to turn. She has the smile only a child that age can have as she’s about to slide down into the open arms of her mum and dad. It’s the smile I’m lucky enough to still see every day.