Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Story Behind the Picture

April 12, 2012

This may seem a random time and place in my blog for this particular entry, so I'll give it a little context. I'm working with my students on descriptive writing right now, and we're doing a photo essay assignment. So as to illustrate the difference between describing what they see in the picture as opposed to describing the story behind the photo, I chose one of my own pictures and used it as an example. This picture of my brother and me happens to be one of my favorites, so this is the one I chose.

Here's the basics of my photo:

Who? My brother Gary and me

What? Opening Christmas presents

When? Christmas, probably 1969

Where? My house in Oklahoma

Why? Well...because it was Christmas!

Not much of a story, huh? No emotions there, nothing to draw the interest of an objective 'reader' of the picture. So what's the story behind the photo? Why is it meaningful to me? Here's a fuller 'picture' of the picture:

I love the smell of pine needles. It means Christmas to me, and Christmas means a great many things to me: love, family, joy, magic. From the time I was a cherub-faced little tot, I have anxiously awaited Christmas morning and all of the gifts, both literal and figurative, it brings. Many, many years ago, before our family was a family of seven, we were a tight-knit group of four, and my older brother, impish and fiercely intelligent, was my hero. On Christmas mornings, I'd follow his lead: he'd listen intently at the door to hear whether or not Mom or Dad was stirring, which was our cue. We were not allowed to open our door until we knew they were awake. When he heard the coffee pot brewing, we'd run out to the living room to see mounds of colorful presents piled high under the festive tree, manyof them bigger than both of us, and stockings filled to the brim with sweets and trinkets.

As a young boy, Gary was, like me, filled with the joy of Christmas. There was a sweetness and an innocence in his face, and always a twinkle in his eye. He played with me, a sense of tenderness in his touch as he patted me on the head and helped my chubby little hands rip at the shiny paper that would reveal a dolly or a stuffed bear for me to love. He was protective of me, and wanted me to be happy.

Later in life, when he succumbed to the demons that haunted his later days--depression, bi-polar disorder, addiction first to alcohol and later to prescription pain killers, and eventually the cancer that ended his life, it was hard to remember the sweet little boy who once took me by the hand and led me through our childhood. When I look back at pictures of our family in our younger days, I can see again the sweet little boy who, for a time at least, knew happiness, and I'm forever thankful for those memories.

No comments:

Post a Comment