This is a picture of my family back when I was a kid. It means a bunch to me because it’s the only photo I have of the six of us. I’m the little guy on the far right.
Don’t worry if you can’t see the photo too well, it’s just an amateur black-and-white picture from 1950 of a mom and dad and their four children, carefully posed in their Sunday dress-up clothes.
I remember the day this photo was taken. We were in Boone, Iowa, at Grandma Kuhl’s house. What’s harder to construe is all the changes a family – my family, I guess, any family – goes through over 60-plus years. I never could have predicted what would happen to each of these smiling individuals.
Most of the stories that spun out from this photo were ones of success and joy. Of course, occasional poor choices, bruises and painful secrets also wound around our lives, similar to what happens in most families. My mom and dad led full and productive lives and died within months of each other in 1999. My brother, Eddie, passed a few years ago, after creating a very secretive and complicated life for himself. While I never attempted to unravel his mysteries, I believe a great novel could be written, and a movie produced, about how Eddie turned into Edward.
My two sisters and I remain. My oldest sister, Connie, was always an academic. She became a teacher of the highest order. Kelly, the closest to me in age and spirit, chose to be a professional dancer and manager of the arts. I see both of them as superstars.
And then I look at me, a little boy caught in a Kodak moment, who could never have grown up to be an excellent teacher and certainly not a professional dancer. From a young age, I wanted to play and I wanted to write and I spent my lifetime figuring out how to make a living doing both.
Looking at this picture, and thinking of then and now, confirms in my mind that we are each the captains of our lives. The choices we make, large and small, determine the direction each of our stories will go.
Do you have an old family picture that you return to? I’d love to see it, and hear how your story has changed since that moment in time.