The loss of a person is painful, final, and personal to each individual that loses and misses that person. The loss of a member of a family or other collective unit has its own devastation. My mother’s presence in our family was dominant. Her force became so apparent when it was all of a sudden gone.
I’m actually amazed at the number of pictures we have, documenting our family. The moments captured were done so with a variety of cameras over the years, as photo processing changed from squarish images to rectangular, then they just got larger and larger. I have no memories of the cameras, posing for pictures, or who might be taking most of the pictures. It all seems like a lot of effort or at least a different type of effort than documenting today. Was this just what people did? Was it expected? Did they consciously think about it? How did we afford this?
I love this set of informal family portraits. It didn’t take me long to find a series to show the growth from one kid to four. A side note: I love all my mother’s outfits in this series.
Norma has such a great smile in each of these. Smiling was something that she couldn’t do when she got sick. She hated being in pictures because of this. We have formal family portraits as well. I remember these being taken at church later on, but not sure about the earlier ones. What is apparent is that my mother starts disappearing from these portraits even before she died in 1995. There are none with kids and mom, but there are quite a few with dad and kids.
There were no formal family portraits taken after my mom was gone. Even this, a sign of the knit of our family loosening and the growing need to be intentional to keep any of it together.
Norma was the person who had the answers, or at least had the trust of everyone to make things okay. She coordinated us all to keep our home and lives attended. Piles would not accumulate because she would notice. Same with our habits, who we were friends with, what we might be spending our time on. My mother’s word was final. When I wanted to go on the 8th grade trip to Washington DC, I knew I had to convince my mother. My father’s approach was to continue to develop individual relationships with each of us. This was needed and important, but we lost the one looking out for the family as a whole. That was Norma.