Catriona had put a lot of work into her family photo album. It wasn’t so much an album; it was more a family tree. Each old photo was accompanied by a brief biography of who was who and what they had achieved in their lives. Catriona nonchalantly kept the album on her coffee table. Visitors would dip into it while Catriona was out in the kitchen making the tea and quickly baking a batch of edibles.
Here was a picture of her great great grandmother who single-handedly had confronted a whole tribe of warlike natives demanding money.
Here was a picture of a great uncle who used to ferry people in his rowboat, one person at a time, across the raging Lualaba River in the Congo.
Here was the highest in command saved when his ship was torpedoed in the war. That was her grandfather.
There is no doubt that Catriona’s ancestry was riddled with heroines and heroes. It was extraordinary how bravery can be passed on from one generation to the next. Was it Nature or Nurture?
“Perhaps it’s a bit of both,” Catriona would say, “although there are some people in my tree that are not yet in the album. If the truth be known, they were quite ordinary!”
Indeed! If the truth be known! The whole thing was a fiction in Catriona’s world. She had been adopted at birth. She had no clue who her biological parents were. Murgatroyd, a visitor from Little Ivywood Hamlet, pointed this out.
“Heavens to Murgatroyd!” exclaimed Catriona. “This is the family tree of my adopted parents. Family is not in the genes; it’s in the heart. And this is an album of my family.”
It would be politically incorrect, in fact insulting, to say that Louis was as gay as a row of pink tents. But he was; everyone said so. The way he would dress up and get photographed in poses that made it look like he was straight out of an old photography gallery. But he was as alive today as you and me. He was… well… pink tents doesn’t quite capture it.
He would get a new photograph taken about once a month, always in a different costume, always in sepia, always horribly posed. He had them on his fridge in rows (Louis was terribly ordered) under little fridge magnets of various vegetables. There was a turnip magnet when he was dressed as a pirate, and a lettuce magnet when he was a sultan, and so on. There were about twenty photographs altogether. Goodness! He almost needed a bigger fridge!
When Louis died, quite suddenly, his two sisters cleaned up his house. There wasn’t a great deal there; nothing overly personal; just a few household items that they sold to the second-hand store. There was the fridge of course. A used fridge doesn’t fetch much, but a few dollars is a few dollars.
They didn’t know what to do with the photographs. Berwyn said she would keep them and put them in her family album. That was very kind of her, because she disliked the silly photographs immensely.
While putting them in the album, Berwyn noticed something. She’d never noticed it before. Each photograph was dated on the back. What she noticed made Berwyn check the newspapers around each date.
Annabelle hated to have her photo taken. Not only formally, but casually. If someone snapped a shot she would snap: “Who gave you the right to photograph me?”
Her family photo album was meticulously kept. Every event was recorded. There were one or two of Annabelle herself, but that’s because it was part of a group family occasion and she didn’t want to ruin the photograph by cutting herself out with scissors.
“I look so ugly,” she would say. “I simply do not take a good photo. I am so unphotogenic.”
Forty years later, Annabelle was going through her family photo albums.
“Don’t I look lovely?” she said without a touch of cynicism. “If only I could look as lovely as that now.”