There isn't just one image of my parents that stands still in mind. Instead, my brain has catalogued my memories in slides.
You remember slide photographs, don't you? The photos were printed like little transparencies. You could hold them up to the light and remember the family's fondest moments. Then, you'd organize them in an the circular metal tray, dim the lights, and dazzle friends and family with the highlights of that trip to Chicago. Those slideshows were amazing. Well, until PowerPoint was invented.
Yet, when I think of my parents, none of my fondest memories of them exist in print. I don't have any tangible slides to arrange. Instead, my mind is littered with them.
At six foot five inches tall, my father loomed over my five-foot-two-inch mother, but the clearest slide is of the two of them slow dancing in the living room. The coffee table had been relocated against the door. Their daughter had been tucked into bed (or so they believed); so, the two enjoyed the beguiling croons of a soul singer. With her hand resting upon his chest and his arm wrapped around her body, they swayed in unison with their eyes closed - never noticing that their daughter was awake well past her bedtime.
When the slide changes, I see my mother asleep. Her head resting upon my father's lap. Her body curled upon the second cushion of the couch. She was covered in a quilt that she had hand sewn. With his arm around her, she slept soundly. He was awake, reading the paper from the day that was drawing to its end.
There we are outside of our house. It's Saturday evening. Cars are being washed. Friends are over. Food's being grilled. Music's being played. He's smiling and sudsy. She's avoiding all of it, walking about the yard, pretending to check her roses. He knows she isn't out there to help. She knows he doesn't want her help.
And, in another click, we are at the store. She's pushing the shopping cart. She's focused on feeding the family. She has the list and is marking things from it. He's thrown a loaf of bread to me like a Hail Mary pass. I ran long down the aisle. While I caught the pass and am celebrating as a wide receiver should, she frowns a displeasing grimace; and, we are both in trouble.
Then, the slide changes and their bags are packed and in the trunk. It's their annual anniversary trip. My bag has been taken inside and I am waving goodbye. I'm outside of my Grandmother's condominium. They are pulling out of the driveway. I can see into the windshield. I can see their smiling faces. I can see my mother smiling. I smile back.
I could recall more slides for pages. I could categorize them by years, by emotions, by the ones I emulate, and by the ones I seek to overcome.
They are my forgotten byways. They recede into darkness and reappear into light when I least expect it. They are the lens through which I see the world - despite my efforts to the contrary.
Chances are, we all have them.