I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at old snapshots lately. It begins to matter very little if I actually recognize the people in them. There’s just something about looking at pictures that sticks with me. Removing a bunch of them from adhesive album pages has been instructive. There are sometimes captions on the back, but usually not. Most of the time, you’re just left with your own thoughts about the picture.

It dawned on me this afternoon that no one really takes a picture because they want to forget something. At one time or another, these children (whoever they are) were important to someone. The someone in this case is my mother; but even she couldn’t remember who most of them were. They date from a time when she first moved to California and was living in a little apartment complex in Ventura. She was twenty, I think, and had a child of her own— my eldest brother David. She remembered that a woman in the complex was always volunteering to take David off her hands; she loved him.

This could be a picture of David, but I’m not sure. Probably not. As I captioned some of these photos, it dawned on me that there isn’t anyone alive to care. Almost everyone is dead, so what does it matter? David had two sons and a daughter; I don’t know what became of his daughter. His sons are alive, but he’s not. I keep scanning and posting these photographs mostly because I like them. I also liked David, but I didn’t know him that well. He was 13 years older.

David always nagged me to go to college. I couldn’t afford it, really. David understood that. It took him six or eight years to get his associates (two year) degree and another four or five to get his BA. He did complete a masters after about fifteen years or so of trying. He stuck to it, and encouraged me to do the same. He was accepted into law school and had just started that when one of his sons was hit by a car, causing severe trauma, brain damage, and a coma. He had to drop out that time and never made it back. He eventually lost a battle with alcohol.

David wasn’t alive when I got my masters. But my mother was.

Mom and mattress in Ventura