Monday, January 04, 2010


I cannot describe how strange it is to be looking at photos of my father and realizing that he was the same age as my son would have been now.

It's the same with my mother. Looking at them at the old fashioned dinner dances, just hitting their thirties and then wondering what I was doing at that age.

I read somewhere, don't ask because I've forgotten, a man said he disliked the Mona Lisa because she had cruel eyes. When I put my hand over the bottom half of her face, I could see what he meant. I've done that a lot with photographs of me. The longer I was married, the eyes lost the smile that my mouth performed.

Old photographs are useful for memory. What year did the mirror go on the wall? How long ago did we get rid of that awful lounge suite? I thought those curtains were almost new and they've been up, how long?

But the boys, I can't look at the boys. My son with the golden curls, my nephew with the brown ones, always together. They were closer than brothers, closer than just friends, always planning trouble, in trouble or charming their way out of trouble.

There was one photograph that I wished had more detail, was larger so I could really see them. It was a rare holiday at the beach, cold enough for them to be rugged up and wearing beanies but there they were, arms around each other, standing in the waves which were slowly filling their gumboots and they were laughing. Freezing, soaking wet but laughing.

For all the New Agers that are waiting for the end of the world in 2012, blink and you'll miss it.
I blinked and 25 years disappeared.


Elisabeth said...

It's scary, isn't it the passage of time?

And more so for you when time has stopped still with the death of your son, at least one aspect of it has.

You must see things differently from the rest of us, from those of us who have not yet lost a child.

I think there is nothing more cruel n life, more cruel than anything, than the death of one's child. To me it's worse than torture and I admire your determination to write about it here ,honestly, unflinchingly and beautifully knowing that your heart must ache all of the time for this beloved son.

My own heart goes out to you, you of the dry wit and sardonic disposition. How much does it cover all the pain?

I hope I'm not saying too much here, but these are just some my thoughts when you mention your lost son.

R.H. said...

My favourite artwork is the Winged Victory and it doesn't even have a head. Mind you, I'm apparently a poor judge of paintings and sculpture: except for the Winged Victory and Raft of the Medusa visiting the Louvre was a waste of dough. The Uffizi was worse. I just don't appreciate painting and sculpture, all I can do is apologise. It's a bit different with literature but not much. 'My Last Duchess' is my favourite poem. If you read it you'll see how some people can't care and others can't avoid it.

Which would you rather be?

River said...

The eyes lost the smile.
I know exactly what you mean. I've seen it on people as well as photographs. On my mother's photos however there was never any kind of smile. Eyes or mouth. She always looked sulky.

Lad Litter said...

Time marches on alright. There's that old Strop line from the Paul Hogan Show. "My whole life flashed in front of me. Gee it was boring."

Jayne said...

It runs past us too fast, taking everything with it.

WV =sumps
Yep, perfect.

Ann ODyne said...

mucho empathy from me dear Coppy- I just cannot look at any old photos without plunging into the abyss.

We have all read many times of people stricken by the loss of their 'photos' in afire, and indeed the people whose house I am sitting removed their photos to melbourne in case we get a repeat of the bushfires of 1944 which swept through right here.
There's a great cerntry sowng
"memories can't be bought an
It took me years,
To get those souvenirs ...
and I don't know how they slipped away from me"
I think it's by John Prine.
One glance and every detail of that day at the beach can be re-lived.

JahTeh said...

Elisabeth, messages from the beyond. I cry for him and his gorgeous legacy turns up today. All she wanted to do was sit and talk about him and look at the photos that made me sad but made her laugh. She has his hands. Her mother remarried and she is not allowed to mention her father's name. She was not even allowed to keep his name but was adopted without having a say in it.

Robbert, I love the Winged Victory, beautiful without the head, in fact the head might have detracted from the body. Was the 'Raft of the Medusa' by Delacroix? I'm one of those people who love to have paintings explained then I can really enjoy them or keep disliking them.

River, a life unfulfilled by the sound of it. Try covering the face of some of these celebrities and just look at the eyes. It's amazing how the eyes show the real feelings.

LL, how can you say that when we were both children of the sixties?
Life wasn't boring, we just can't remember it.

Jayne, it should slow down the older we get, we need the time to smell the roses and get the @#$%ing ring pull off the PepsiMax.

Annie O, it's certain smells or music that brings memories back to me and I'll know where I was at that time.
New mown grass takes me back to one fantastic summer night as a kid, the smell of beer slops reminds me not to get married again.

R.H. said...

You're right about the missing head, it's egalitarian, if I could paint I'd do a crowded ballroom of headless people.
There was a bust of someone in a corner of Catani Gardens which had been missing its head for years, gentrification removed the remainder, as it removes every intrigue, replacing it with logic.

R.H. said...

They had the Winged Victory on the first landing of a twin stairway, seen from above it's a huge drama.

R.H. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
R.H. said...

Sorry, off topic. No idea what happened there.

Miss G and myself have changed our duet, we will now be performing Only Make-Believe (I love you). She's going out with an old professor later that evening and he's likely to propose (something).

Old Etonian.

JahTeh said...

Robbert, I love that song and now I'll have it in my mind all day

Middle Child said...

Could you bear to post the photo of your son and cousin - if you haven't already done so - my memory is bad on this. I feel like this when i look at photos...and am sadly seeing the sad eyes on my eldest daughter's face which bely the smile she constantly wears - something very bad has happened to her which I can't post and I know how unhappy she has been now - she wouldn't tell I know how sad it is to look at old photos and see things that have changed.

How good that your little grand daughter wants to know - she will want to know more and more - and you are the one with that knowledge - he will live in her memory the more you can bear to tell her.

JahTeh said...

Therese, it's a very small photo but I'll see how it scans. It might be better posting the wedding one of them together, so smart in the tuxedos.
She asked questions and I answered honestly which is still my opinion not anyone else's but she's smart enough to compare and judge. Today on her facebook she announced to her friends what she is going to do for the next year and my honesty has been justified. She has courage that I've never had.