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My parents first met in Worcester, MA, after my father returned from World War II. He was a translator in the Army; he’d learned French in high school so “translator” must have seemed like a logical assignment. His first name was Carlton, but everyone called him Tex, after a baseball player named Tex Carlton. As a teenager, he was a skinny kid and his friends called him “Tweet.”
Mom was pretty much a loner named Shirley, but she and my dad made a connection after the war. When they decided to be married, they had a large wedding with lots of family and friends. But when the photographer went to develop the photographs, they were somehow lost or destroyed.* The only testament to their wedding was a movie that was taken on 16mm film. Years later, when my uncle who had the only copy offered to share it with them, they learned that the projector needed to play the film wasn’t readily available. So, the film sat in a drawer.
Finally, a friend was able to convert the film for them so that it could be played! (I have no information about the technical details; I only know that we were going to see a wedding film of my parents’ special occasion—finally!)
So, one afternoon we all gathered to view this special occasion, which at that point had taken place 30 years earlier. It was a silent film, of course, and showed lots of people we didn’t know, although we could pick out a few relatives we had gotten to know over the years. The highlight of the viewing was when my mother and father walked down the aisle together—we all called out, “Jim!” The man who had my mother’s arm was the spitting image of my brother, who was about the same age as my father was that day. We played that segment of the film over and over again. My dad/brother shared the same sheepish grin, walk, and posture. It was so shocking, but delightful at the same time.
* * * * *
After all these years, I have no idea where that film now rests. My parents passed away some years ago. But thinking about that film, I’m reminded that in spite of the distance between my brother and me and our infrequent communication, we are connected by the same blood, the same heritage, the same parents. That connection is in one sense a superficial one, and tenuous at best, but it is also deep and lasting in other ways. We share a history, various versions of the same stories, our recollection of good times and bad. And when I think of that wedding film, I am also reminded of the remarkable links of nature and genes that will always be with us. In a sense, the people walking down the aisle were my father and brother, my mother, and me. I am always amazed at how resemblances are passed on, from one generation to the next.
* My husband and I are pictured above since I have no photo of my parents.Published in