I was cleaning some of the photos off my phone the other day, and couldn’t help but laugh at some of the strange things on there. The experience also drove home a very important fact I tend to forget now and then – my family is certifiably crazy.
I found a photo of my son’s and husband’s legs hanging out of the trunk of a car. A baby lounging against a case of beer. My neighbor riding a little kid’s bike. My husband cutting down a tree. My mother smiling at the camera and giving my dad bunny ears. A dog sleeping next to a roaring bonfire. My son with his hair sticking straight in the air.
Half of the photos I took and forgot about them.
Since my granddaughter Layla was born, my daughter Maggie sends me a photo every couple of days, usually sent from her phone to mine. In the pictures, Layla is sometimes sleeping or sometimes smiling, sometimes frowning and sometimes staring intently at something I can’t see. Since the baby was born, Maggie has become almost as much of a camera-hound as me.
I’ve always been the same way. My kids saw spots for the first few years of their lives, and as they got older, got used to me snapping off photos at every opportunity. After video cameras became small enough to fit in my pocket, stills were augmented by moving pictures. I have a 30-minute video of Maggie playing Nintendo when she was 5 years old. And Nicholas singing every song from “The Lion King” while covered with chicken pox when he was about 3 years old. And Matthew scooting through the house rubbing his head on the carpet when he was 4 years old.
But I still tend to stick to my still camera more often.
I have numerous photos of Eric napping with various babies and toddlers, because nothing is as comfy as Daddy. Except maybe Grandpa, since I have photos of Eric napping with Layla.
I have video of Matt’s various musical performances, Nick’s plays, Maggie’s living room dance routines. I have photos of kids wearing new outfits, kids covered with mud wearing big smiles, dogs passed out on couches, kids on trampolines, first days of school, last days of school, and lots of photos of various Wettschrecks holding freshly-caught fish.
I have a picture of Nicholas as an infant trying to get at a chess set that’s under glass. I have Matthew as a fifth-grader in the regional spelling bee. I have Maggie on the back of a Harley-Davidson at age four, and dancing in the backyard in a pink bathing suit at age three.
What I don’t have is photos of me. As a kid, maybe, but not many as an adult. Very few of me snuggling babies or playing with toddlers. None of me cleaning house or gardening or making supper or sitting at a computer writing stories. Pretty much nothing of everyday life. I’m in a few posed group photos of Avoca Fire & Rescue, but none of the action photos. There’s nothing of me shingling roofs or cutting down trees or hanging drywall.
Not that I mind much, but it’s going to frustrate someone someday.
“Where’s great-grandma?” a voice will ask, viewing a group photo of his or her ancestors. “She’s not in any of these!”
“She’s probably the one taking the picture,” someone will answer.
And they will be right.
Looking back, the only thing about any of this that bothers me is the moments I didn’t think to photograph – chubby cheeks with fat tears making tracks through the layer of dust when the 5-year-old is told he has to come inside and take a bath before bed, the stoic and confused look on the faces of three young buddies banded together to approach a coffin and view a dead friend at a funeral, an entire family sitting around the dining room table talking about nothing and everything, handing plates and dishes back and forth. Those are things I will always have in my head, but never on film. They are lost moments that will never be recaptured.
Wow, does that ever make me wish I could draw or paint, just thinking about it. Then I’d have the distinction of being on the other side of the palette, easel or sketchbook.
- Interviewing Sen. Al Franken at Minnesota West