A ripped up family photo

Now it’s easy to delete a bad family photo. If you don’t like what you see in preview mode, just hit a button and it vanishes forever. Back when I was a kid, you had to have the film developed. Then you had to go through the pack of good, bad and mediocre images, and choose which ones went into the family album. Or, if you had a Polaroid, you crossed your fingers as the image developed before your eyes.

There is one photo I clearly remember which did not earn a place in the family album. I was about four years old. Mom was trying out her new Polaroid and wanted to take family photos. Dad decided to hit the bar beforehand. He came home with cheeks as rosy as a clown’s and his breath reeked of beer. But he was happy and ready to grin for the camera.

Mom needless to say was not so happy. She tried to dissuade Dad but he wanted his picture taken … with me. I remember sitting on his lap, and smelling beer and smoke and Dad’s aftershave underneath the bar smell. I was happy, because Dad was happy, not understanding the source of his cheeriness. She agreed to take a photo, just to diffuse the situation. The moment was forgotten until years later, when I came across the photo, buried in a shoebox filled with family photos.

“Oh, I meant to throw that out,” Mom said and snatched it out of my hand. She ripped it up, trying to destroy the memory forever.

But her attempt failed, as I remember every detail of that moment. It’s not necessarily a bad memory, it’s just the ups and downs most families experience.

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