I was visiting my parents this weekend and found a treasure I never expected.
Sadly, Mother and Daddy are both 77 years old and suffer from mentally debilitating diseases – Mother from dementia and Daddy from Alzheimer’s Disease. They still have a lot of recognition left in them, but short-term memories have become progressively elusive. That’s why it amazes me when they can still pull up memories from 50 years ago.
Remembering those times when they were young seem comforting to them and I love hearing the stories, so we were reminiscing Sunday when Mother said, “Get that yellow photo album off that shelf there.”
When I opened the book, I was surprised to see a bunch of pictures of me. I’m the oldest daughter, quiet and often felt lost in the crowd. I was sandwiched between my older brother — Mother’s favorite because he was her only boy — and my middle sister who loved to be in front of the camera and dominated family photo albums from the time she was born.
Most of the pictures of me, of course, were the embarrassing kind. They were snapshots in time of an gangling, straight-haired tomboy whose mother constantly tried to make in to a curly-headed Shirley Temple. I paged quickly through the album.
Then I found it. The brittle, sepia tone photograph said everything about who I would become. Perched in front of my brother, I am sitting astride a pony for the first time.
The story goes that my parents were working in the yard one Saturday when a photographer came around the neighborhood leading a pony. He would stop at the houses where he saw children playing and take their picture on his pony for $5. My parents had little money, but I threw such a fit over the pony that Daddy insisted.
My delighted smile is a sure indication I had fallen in love and that day began my life-long affair with horses.