The old 8x10 is faded now. The edges have started to curl, and a faint yellowish tint stains it. It resides right up front in my old tattered photo album. In the past, many tiny fingers have touched it, and countless tears have christened it with love. Who could imagine that one single unplanned photo would bring so much joy and comfort.
Years earlier, a friend and co-worker had taken it. At the time, I was working for a photography company. One of the perks, a free sitting and an 8x10 each month. My two young girls had recently had their photo taken, so I had no need for it. After calling my siblings and friends, I was at a loss. Not wanting to waste the coupon, I called my mom.
Excited by the prospect, she scheduled a date for her and my dad to come in. My father hates his picture taken. Has no use for dressing up and wasting his time, as he so eloquently puts it. Mom tried to get him to come, but he adamantly refused. The day before the sitting, she called in tears. After much discussion, we reached an agreement. My grandmother, My mom, and my two young daughters would keep the appointment. The free photo would go to my grandmother.
The next day, the small entourage arrived. My grandmother made a big scene, hugging and kissing me. The big smile on her face and twinkling green eyes reflected the pride and happiness she felt. My children, dressed in their Sunday best, clung to my legs and begged for attention. With a wiggling bundle on each hip, I escorted my mother and grandmother into the studio.
Then the problems began. My youngest daughter, Danielle, refused to let me leave. No amount of cajoling would convince her to sit on the small stool. Mary, my friend and the photographer, tried stuffed animals, baby dolls, and even sweets, but nothing worked. After several attempts, the battle was lost. Forgetting deadlines and appointments, I climbed into the photos with them.
When the proofs arrived a week later, I cried. Frozen in time, forever recorded, was four generations of women. I ordered several prints, but as promised, my grandmother received the large 8x10. Years later after Granny died, my mom removed it from its prominent display on the wall. Like a treasure, she wrapped it in a towel and took it home, and it immediately found a new home on her wall.
I lost my mother in November. Months later, I helped my dad pack some of her things away. Tears assaulted me when I came to the old photo. Sobbing and laughing I revisited the memory of that forgotten day. Little had I known then, what a treasure this photo would one day become? After wrapping it in a towel, I cradled it to my chest, and brought it home. It has once again journeyed to a new home.