I’ve rarely attached myself to “things”. Oh, I have my Nannie’s 1930s rocking chair and a small painting of a mysterious little boy from my mother’s antique shop. Both mementos have been with me in every home of my adult life. And with one exception, I am absolutely fine with the impermanence of most things.
I really, truly wish I had more pictures. More photos of my family, my friends, the houses and churches and schools . . . images and evidence of the setting and characters of my childhood. Snapshots would prove it all happened. Once upon a time there was a beautiful mommy and a strong daddy and they loved their rascally son so much they had another child to make their fun-loving family complete. See the adorable toddler? That’s me, honest! See how tall and handsome my daddy is in this one?! I know, I know . . .oh, thanks, that’s sweet of you to say . . .
But, two things conspired against a more complete family album:
1) My mother was a military wife. With each transfer, somehow or other there was a mix-up, a box (or 3 or 4) always seemed to get “lost in the move” and oh, well, they’re just things, kiddo! Fresh shart, chin up! Let’s not dwell on what we can’t fix! She travelled light because she had to. Plus, it suited her lean and clean approach to life.
2) After Hawaii, after 1965, after everything changed . . .my mother, my brother and I gradually let go of most of what was left of our family souvenirs. At 13, I decoupaged pictures of the Beatles, the Monkees and peace symbols – and my family photos – in a crazy collage. My artwork covered every inch of a huge cable spool that I used as a bedside table. Groovy, baby! My brother was 20, drifting down a darker path and somehow in the haze of the summer of love he let our family movies slip down the rabbit hole.
But I have always been lucky (blessed, actually) and miraculously managed to hold on to a few photos, small snippets of evidence that my family and my childhood really and truly happened.
And so, a couple of days before Father’s Day I can curl up in my Nannie’s rocking chair, smile at the painting of that mysterious little boy and show you one of my family pictures.
See? It’s a grainy, slighty torn snapshot of my father and his little girl on the beach, probably California, I can’t be sure of that now. But I can tell you his name was Wilmer Asbury Lamb, Jr. – affectionately called Bill by everyone in the world except his kids – Greg and me. Because we were special. We got to call him Daddy. Honest, we did!