Last Sunday we had my parents over for Easter dinner and enjoyed a nice roast pork with rosemary, polenta, brussel sprouts and a simple tomato-avocado-corn salad in vinaigrette. Afterward, my mom took out a Ziploc bag full of old photographs of my grandma's; they were duplicates that she was giving to me.
Divided into two stacks of photos, one of me and one of my sister, there were shots from virtually every period of my life. My grandma was always a very prolific and enthusiastic picture taker, and there are whole albums at her house that say, "Brian 1973", "Brian 1974" and so on. The pictures of my sister, who was born when I was 12, show my awkward teenage years well documented as well. Mustaches seem to come and go from our dad's face, and my mom's hairstyles vary as well with the times.
My favorite shot, though, may be this one of my mom's college graduation in 1978 -- thirty years ago this spring. After leaving college at University of Oregon after her junior year to marry my dad in 1968, initially she'd been a stay-at-home mom when I was born in '72. But by the time I was headed to school, mom was pretty bored and wanted to develop a career. She enrolled herself at Linfield College in McMinnville, where we lived, on the same day she signed me up for kindergarten at Newby Elementary. A year later, she graduated with an accounting degree and a 4.0 GPA after initially being an English major. For two years she worked as an accountant at a helicopter company, but she's since been working at the same steel mill in McMinnville for something like 28 years.
I like this photo in part for nostalgic reasons, in part because it has a simple composition. Most of all, though, I like how this documents a key transitional moment for all three of us. (My sister would come six years later.) My dad had just quit managing a chain restaurant, where he was burdened by horribly long hours and a trough-like dining environment, to buy a small cafe in McMinnville that's still going strong today. My mom, although born into a conservative, patriarchal rural family where the women were expected to stay at home, embraced the times and entered the workforce - dependent on no one. I remember for years in her office my mom had some quote from a women's suffragist that said, "Make policy, not coffee." All this from a woman voting with the GOP. Meanwhile, I was in this picture a first grader, ending the early years at home with just mom and Sesame Street most of the time. There would be 16 years of school ahead, and that was just the start of things.
It was tortuous of me at the time to put on a shirt, tie and, worst of all, dark socks. But I enjoy so much now, these three decades later, seeing the three of us dressed up and ready to move on, together.