Opinion Columns & Blogs

Pictures on the wall, tell alot, or not

Where do all the pictures go and why are some of them there in the first place? You know. The ones that sit on desks, hang on walls, line mirrors and sometimes look down from fireplace mantles? You might even find one in the kitchen on a baker’s rack next to a cookbook.

They change you know, as the years go by, from grandparents to parents to children to grandchildren and of course aunts and uncles who may have meant something to those whose houses they adorn. In addition, you have to wonder, just how long your picture will look down from the fireplace or wall, or if it’s even there when you’re not.

I know my mother moves pictures around all the time, depending on who’s coming to visit. I wonder what she’s doing with mine when I’m not around? Do I remain front and center, the apple of her eye? Or am I relegated to a spot on the toilet tank or screened in porch? It would probably behoove me to have my nephew take a video of the entire house when I’m not there. You can’t be too careful when it comes to 95-year-olds.

Sometimes folks even keep pictures of relatives that fell out of favor with the family in full display. My mother has several of these. One of — how shall I put this — a person of questionable character that married one of her daughters and unfortunately fathered several children, whose sad pictures are also displayed. Another of a brother-in-law who can only be described as “wanton.” Yes you read that right, and still alive but not doing well, due to a history of sampling wayward women in weird places. We reap what we sow and this guy was a major sower.

Well, mom’s brother-in-law must be displayed because the sister-in-law is in the picture as well. I guess you could say they were on the same “team” early in life, raising children who married well, before he decided to venture out on his own in pursuit of wily females all too ready to relieve him of his money. But, am I the only person here who can readily identify with the aforementioned situation — that of family reprobates whose pictures are in full display. If I am, I must rejoice in the fact that I am a member of a unique family with an unusual history indeed.

Unfortunately, the brother and sister-in-law’s picture resides in the dining room where we take most of our meals. I have sympathy of sorts for mom’s sister-in-law, as she was my father’s much younger sister who fell on hard times at the age of 18 when she married a man with a hairy back and no morals. Well, who am I to judge? They fell in love and we now have this sweet picture of the two of them together which may be better than potential videos of him with questionable women from Charlotte to Beaumont, Texas. He loved to ride the bus back in the 1960s. Thank goodness for the digital camera where one can eliminate unwanted objects with the aid of a mouse. But I digress.

Displayed wedding pictures are always interesting. How long do they (or should they) stay exposed? My wife never put ours up so I really have no idea. It resides in an album where everyone has hair and smiles are as plentiful as heat in August. A reminder that time has indeed moved on. But there comes a time perhaps, when a wedding picture that was once displayed, is no longer. This is a period that could last several decades until, in an effort to rekindle a kind memory from the past, the bride and groom, married in another century, brings it back out for all to see, at least until a grandchild asks, “Who are those people?” Then it’s back in the closet.

We don’t have pictures of grandparents displayed in our house, which is interesting when you think about it. We knew them well, loved each and every one, and yet, they also reside in albums in a dark closet. If indeed our relatives are somewhere, watching — and waiting for our potential arrival at the foot of the throne — would it not make just a little sense to show some respect? After all, they may have his ear and the potential to affect our eternal destination. I shall speak to wife about this post-haste. The thought of spending eternity with my mother’s brother-in law is more than I can bear.

Sonny Harmon is a professor emeritus at Georgia Military College. Visit his blog at http://sharmon09.blogspot.com.