Every year about this time my wife gets weepy over “family,” those distant ones in Iowa (now Minnesota), Georgia, or wherever. Location doesn’t matter except that we aren’t there and weren’t expected anyway, distance being what it is. She remembers Thanksgivings in Ottumwa, Des Moines, or Muscatine with piles of food, the special china, journeys, relatives, and shelter from the storm. I remember murky gatherings like the one above at Granny’s house in Maryland, which may have been Thanksgiving or another time, before my father hauled us off to Germany for four long years.
The only people sort of smiling in that photo are my cousin Joyce and me and Aunt Mary the nurse (!), gazing down at Bill—she didn’t marry until age 56 and could safely dote on other people’s kids. Just look at that ensemble. I wonder where Teresa is? She would have been just three, too young to take the picture, or maybe that’s why I’m amused. Granddad lost his other leg a few months later, by the way. Aunt Mary was there that Christmas, as were we, when he opened his present from her and a pair of hand-knit socks fell out. She’d forgotten about the amputations, a perfect plot twist for the Farrs.