The family has all been banished from my workspace. No more eyes on my computer screen to know when I’m working and when I’m playing online Scrabble. No more distracting smiles in my direction while I’m sitting in my comfy chair with my pen and notebook. No more hanging around in my office.
The only one left is a single grandchild. For the sake of family harmony, let me hurry to add that this isn’t due to his particular place in my heart. It’s due to his particular place in my office. He’s on the inside wall.
The others, on the outside wall and just around the corner from it, had to go. But truly, it was for their own protection. The siding crew starts work on our house tomorrow, and we certainly don’t want family members bouncing off the walls when the thumping starts.
All these photos are such a familiar part of the background in my office that I don’t really notice them. But taking them down and dusting them gave me a chance to see them with fresh eyes. (Yes, since you asked, of course I dust pictures. Sometimes as often as once a year, whether they need it or not.)
As I dusted off all the family members, I looked at them. I was reminded of how much they all matter to me. Those people in the family gatherings with everyone much younger than they are now. High school graduation pictures. The wedding pictures that follow them. Not many of the subsequent grandkids, though—they tend to hang out on the refrigerator. Pictures of family members who aren’t with us any more except through photos and memories: my grandmother framed by one of the dinner plates I remember using at her table, my father on horseback with his rope, my husband with his infectious smile.
Once the siding is finished, they’ll all go back up on the walls. After that, I want to remember to look at them more often.
But for now, they’re safely put away. And a good thing, too, because tomorrow has become today. The siding crew has been working hard for about an hour and a half. There is energetic thumping and bumping on three sides of the house. Nails are screeching in agony as they are pulled loose from the walls. Power screwdrivers are whining like a bratty herd of toddler elephants. Window panes are rattling. I am trying to ignore my headache. My fellow inmate is trying to cover the noises with classical music. Neither strategy is working.
At least none of the photographic family members are bouncing off the walls. The three-dimensional family members, though, soon will be.