With apologies to the X-men movie franchise, my future was never so bleak that I had to travel into the past to save it. However, the opportunity to go through old picture albums – I wrote about it here – has been eye-opening. Continuing this week to go through pictures of my parents’ and my childhood, I am dealing with a number of what-ifs’. Where the X-men Wolverine traveled into the past, I have these albums and bric a brac that I can travel back in time while still in my living room.
Pictures of my mother’ and aunt’s childhood in Northern Ireland, where they grew up by the Belfast Lough, show a happy time with favored dogs, cats, as Girl Guides (their equivalent to Girl Scouts), despite the war that must have seriously impacted their early teen years. With the severity of economic conditions in the years following the end of WWII,
they moved to the United States. Some memories never were shared even with an adult child. In the middle 1950s. in New York, she had a beau – an Army soldier – keeping several pictures and cards preserved in one of the albums. Many pictures show my my mother and her lifelong best friend Alice traveling in Europe about the time that mom was 21. In several pictures Hilary’s late husband Jim -wedding, birth of my cousins, and family photos. Sadly, he died in a plane accident just after returning from Viet Nam. Suffering that each of us carry – and particularly – the loss of husbands so early in marriage ( my father became debilitated less than six years into their marriage) shaped character and will in all these women. I think in each of the sisters adversity that they faced shape a strong will.
And photographs of my dad and me give me a renewed image of the man. A picture of my dad reading to me. A picture of Christmas, where I am on my dad’s knee with the red wagon that I loved as a pre-schooler under a Christmas tree. Living in California and having two incomes in the early 1960s, we went to the beach in summer – and skiing in winter. After my parents’ divorce, I never again have been on skis.
From time I was a toddler until today, dogs have also been an influence in my upbringing. Nicky loved to ride in that red wagon, A siamese cat, Suzy, was the only pet we were allowed during a few years we lived in an apartment. Tippie, a shephard mix was my companion in middle school and first years in high school.
Dogs supposedly do not have concept of time. But they do have behavior that is rooted in their past. So perhaps, when they dream, they dream of happy times, future and past. I certainly do.