This afternoon I was going through some old pictures I scanned a couple of years ago in order to burn them to a CD. My brother’s daughter is looking for pictures of my parents. She never knew Mom and what she knows of Dad was after he’d retired because of Parkinson’s Disease. That is such a compact period of time in his life.
Pictures have always been a vehicle by which we told stories. When I came across this picture, I chuckled, because I wanted to hear this story over and over, even if it was short and really silly. Even now, though, I think of Mom’s laughter as she told the story of finding me curled up on the floor of the bathroom, sound asleep.
Mom and Dad’s bedroom was at one end of the hall and the bathroom was at the other end. However, the television was in their room and they stayed up long after we’d gone to bed watching some of their favorite shows. Not only that, for some reason or other, their closet light was often on. So, when one of us kids would get up to go to the bathroom, our bleary-eyed half-asleep selves would walk to the light, rather than the bathroom.
That night, I had walked into their bedroom and Mom immediately knew what was happening. She managed to get my attention and gave me strict orders as to what I was to do next. I was to go to the bathroom, then go to sleep. I did exactly that. I went into the bathroom, and when I was finished, curled up on the rug and went to sleep. When they found me, a picture was required, because of course there would be stories to tell as I grew up.
Now, I wasn’t the only one attracted to that closet light. They couldn’t get my brother to wake up enough one night to redirect him and before Mom could stop him, he’d managed to pee in one of Dad’s shoes. Without a word, he went back to bed and Mom and Dad just sat there in bed, stunned into silence. They didn’t get a picture of that, but the story has stayed alive for more than forty years.
Because this is an equal opportunity story blog and I’m thinking about Dad’s shoes, let me tell you what Carol believed about his footwear.
When we were young, Dad visited a recently widowed woman, offering comfort to her after her husband had just died. She asked him what size shoe he wore and when it was the exact size that her husband wore, offered him two brand new pairs of his style of shoes. Of course he accepted. Not having to spend money on shoes would make it much easier to feed his family.
At dinner that evening, he and Mom more than likely talked … and laughed … about the fact that he was wearing a dead man’s shoes. Those words sunk into Carol’s head … for good. They must have laughed about that story for several years after that, because poor Carol believed that ALL of Dad’s shoes from then on came from dead people.
It wasn’t until she was out of college that she discovered it wasn’t true and Dad actually bought shoes to wear on his feet.
Our stories are always important. Pictures remind us how to tell those stories. Pull them out as often as possible, laugh and enjoy the memories and the stories. Even now as your kids are older, they still want to hear their stories from your memories.