I have spent my whole life avoiding the lens of many amateur photographers at family picnics, vacations and reunions. My body image has never been that great, so to me, a photo frozen in time is just what the doctor ordered if I want to forever mar history with a shot of my ever sagging neck.
My kids always said that I made great mug shots the way I would lift my head up as high as it would go right before the camera turned on me and my many flaws or so I thought. Funny, but now my hair is so thin that it blows like wheat in the wind and I have to sunscreen my scalp so I wear hats everywhere that I go and I get more compliments on them than my hairstyles when I had plenty to curl and blow dry…go figure. I just hate to have my picture taken, crazy but it makes me feel conscious of every tiny thing that I don’t like about myself.
I’m not really that vain, but for some reason the camera always makes me feel that way. It is close to the feeling when all of us are considering going to our class reunion and even after 40 or 50 years we hear that little voice that says, I had better take off 20 pounds before that old boyfriend sees me so that he can’t say, “thank goodness I dodged a bullet there!” Then when you see him he looks older than molasses and you wonder what you ever saw in him. Funny what high school does to us, we don’t even realize how much it affects who we are.
Well, anyway, back to family photos. This Easter, our family decided that we needed to have some photos taken, probably because Pete and I are starting to look as old as dirt…ha! Sixteen of us coordinated our outfits, went to our daughter’s house early in the morning the Saturday before Easter with ages from six months to 92 years. We had the entire group photographed and then Pete and I and the grandchildren and great grandchildren were in some heartwarming settings together. My son and daughter joined us in one and another captured just me with the women in our family, which included several generations. With each picture location, one of the family would caringly help me get from place to place due to my diminishing sight. There were also small groups of family portraits taken and of these the one that tickled me the most was when our great granddaughter Olivia at six months was laying on a blanket on her tummy with the four other older grandchildren thinking that she was just as big as they were. After the photographer was finished, we had an Easter weekend barbecue and just spent time together.
I guess all of my crazy insecurities about my body that I have carried with me for over 80 years have finally given way to more important thoughts. Because all I knew at the time that the pictures were being taken was that this big crazy group was enjoying every minute of their time together. And we were all determined to lay down for history a record of how much we all care about each other. Good or bad, Pete and I will always be remembered…sorry, I just have to say it…double chin and all!
Sheila Arellano is a retired reporter for The Escalon Times and a longtime local resident. She continues to contribute a monthly column.