Stuck On Mom
At Mom’s house, family photographs are prominently displayed in one of three places. The refrigerator is the logical landing spot, but the fridge is now 18 years old, and some of the photos have hung there that long. Once a picture has secured a position on the fridge, it’s for life. Even if the subject of the photo is now hanging in the post office, he knows he’ll be wanted on the fridge, too.
These snapshots are lovingly interspersed with such treasures as her copy of “When I Am Old I Shall Wear Purple” and a twelve-year-old announcement promising, “MRS. McKENNA, you may have already won!” Magnets bearing advertising slogans are the cohesive elements of her refrigerator-door art. “Pizza Hut” delivers the connection between the grocery list and the picture of my dad in a two-year-old’s party hat. “The Channel 41 News Team” provides a smooth segue between the “Better Than Barry Manilow Muffin” recipe and a running tally of her bingo winnings since 1973.
The glass front of the china cabinet, its wooden lattice providing a natural framework, has accumulated dozens of pictures over the years. If she took down the photos, guests could admire her Waterford crystal, but she’s unpretentious.
“Oh, the kids have new school pictures?” she exclaims. “Let’s make room on the china cabinet!” No gilded frame could make a grandchild feel more special.
Finally, Mom creates elaborate montages by fastening pictures to the inside of closet doors. These are private collections, not to be shared outside the immediate family. Represented here are kids in their underwear, kids sitting on potty chairs, and anyone having a bad hair day. Every shot of someone with a full mouth is in one of these discreet groupings. Come to think of it, most pictures here are of my brother, John.
As essential as this photographic timeline is to our family’s history, the even greater importance of newspaper clippings cannot be overlooked. Clipping is where Mom’s true passion lies, where her artistic sensibilities blossom.
When my sister won a trip to Hawaii through a Kansas City Star contest, Mom carefully clipped articles for the sake of posterity. When my son became a National Merit semi-finalist, she scavenged 17 copies. I think she treasures the newsprint wedding pictures of her children as much as the professional portraits gracing the grand piano.
Once in a while, one of us actually does something mildly newsworthy, or is accidentally standing near someone who does, and a picture with accompanying caption makes the front page (even if it is just the local shopper). The unexpected thrill is almost more than she can take.
Her most treasured clippings have one unifying characteristic, one value-added element that sets them apart from the typical snippets found in kitchen junk drawers everywhere. Each has been bestowed with the highest honor my mom can imagine, one that earns it a certifiable space in the family annals.
At Mom’s house, the pride of accomplishment is never more than a plastic coating away.
Posted by Katy on 07/14/11 at 10:22 AMFallible Comments...
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