by Conlee Ricketts
My Dad cracks me up and this is one of the many reasons I love him. On my recent visit the following occurred:
“Hun?” he asks while staring at the end table that displays two family portraits of my brother and his family and a school picture of my daughter.
“So you don’t feel neglected, pictures of you are in the closet.”
I start laughing and tease, “Not exactly the best sentence in the world Dad.”
I don’t feel neglected. He has recently moved into this house and the items unpacked are exactly as I remember them. I walk around the house and find little tidbits that send me back to 8 or 12 or 17 and it feels both good and sad. My daughter listens to me say “this reminds me of my childhood” or “oh my god this has to be over 50 years old” because I remember whatever it is I’m showing her from my childhood which never feels so far away but chronologically is so very far away.
Every shelf and every space of wall is full. Where would a picture of me go anyway?
I always tell myself after a visit to Dad’s that my daughter and I will get portraits done like my brother’s family. They are a good looking bunch!
But I never do. I don’t know why I don’t. There’s a list of subconscious reasons I go through to see if I can self-diagnose my resistance:
Wait a minute—I may be onto something there.
Jealous of my brother’s success and what he has been able to provide his children that I feel I am failing to do? Perhaps we have a winner. There’s no need to fall down that rabbit hole today; I think I found what I came looking for.
What I have realized, as I rest from our sightseeing and car trips, is that no two children have the same parents. Within the same family we like to think the experience of “our parents” was the same because we sat at the same table, shared the same traditions, and listened to the same stories, but who I experienced as “Mom and Dad” and age 12 were completely different people than my brother experienced at his age 12, and it is through our own eyes and hearts that we filter our parents. For this reason alone it would be impossible for us to have “the same parents.”
So do I feel neglected that there are no pictures of me out?
I hadn’t even noticed until he said something.
I was busy looking at the beautiful picture of my own child.