While frantically searching through my office for my missing insurance card, I came across this photograph that used to reside in my father’s office. For as long as I can remember, the frame has always been cracked, though I can’t say how that came about. My younger sister’s picture sat next to mine on the shelf, all of her adorableness shining through in her unbroken frame.
I’m not sure when I first noticed the crack or when it first started to bother me but it did.
After my dad retired, I came across the cracked frame in a box at his house and specifically asked if I could have it. I wanted proof I wasn’t my father’s favorite daughter.
I have a habit of harboring shit like that.
I don’t know what irked me more: the fact that my frame was ruined or that my dad didn’t bother to fix it. I entertained endless possibilities debating the two sides, convinced the entire time that had my sister’s frame been cracked, it would have been repaired immediately.
The frame could have fallen off the shelf. More probably, it simply tipped over and cracked and like so many other things in life, went unnoticed.
To everyone except to me.
Fast forward years later, when I too become a single parent like my father. In the hallway of our house, hung three frames displaying my children’s artwork.
Except, the thing is, one of the frames was empty.
For quite some time, one of the frames didn’t have a picture in it.
And I can’t remember why.
It could have been because I couldn’t find the picture I wanted. It could have been because the picture I wanted to use was too big for the frame. Whatever the reason, the frame hung empty on the wall.
I’d put it up with the best intentions, never planning for it to hang empty as long as it did. For the longest time, I would walk past the empty frame and remind myself it needed to be addressed.
But for some reason, it never did get addressed.
I could type out a million excuses, all of them probably valid, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that all these years I have been wagging my judgmental finger at my father for the exact same thing I did to my own child.
It seems my cracked frame compliments my glass house perfectly.
Did the son whose picture was missing wonder why his artwork wasn’t represented like I wondered why my cracked frame hadn’t been repaired?
I don’t know the answer to that question. All I know is that when a friend visiting me asked why I had an empty frame on the wall, I rectified the situation immediately with a drawing off the fridge.
Years later, I confronted my father and asked him point blank why he favored my sister over me. His response was simple and concise.
That sentence could have seriously changed my life if I’d heard it earlier. But I didn’t know how to ask it because I was too busy worrying about my cracked frame.
2 thoughts on “A Story in a Single Image”
Those unasked questions and long-held presumptions have “cracked” many a family. Really love this line: “It seems my cracked frame compliments my glass house perfectly.”
Very nice. Isn’t it amazing how one small thing can be perceived so differently from the various members of the same family, little fluctuations that have lasting effect…