Pictures and the End of the World

imageIt is sobering when you stand at the gravesite of your last surviving parent.  First, you realize,whether you’re seven or seventy, that you’re an orphan.  Secondly, as you watch the casket descend, you realize you’re next.

If you are the oldest sibling, you are also aware that you’re the only one who knows the names of all the people in those old family photos.  I always wondered why I would discover albums full of photographs in dumpsters, or sold at yard-and-estate sales.  At one time, these folks were loved, or made great apple pie, drank themselves to death, wore false teeth, or lost an arm in a war or a threshing machine accident.

The pictures wind up in the trash because nobody remembers who they were.  You only exist as long as there is someone who remembers you.  Then you blink out.

I am now that rememberer.  This came to mind the other day when I came across a picture of my fourth birthday party.  In this case, though, I remember who the people in the picture are.  But I cannot remember what was going on behind the lens that would have produced the looks on all our faces.


I am the kid in the middle, the party girl, looking dubious. The others seem disgusted or frightened.  Nobody seems very jolly or happy they came.  There are no presents,no cake, no ice cream in view.  And there’s not a soul left that I can ask why or what happened. The photographers have blinked out. I will never know the story of the Absolutely Horrible No Fun Fourth Birthday Party of Little Linda Moser. I know that isn’t a big earth-shaking event.  But it does remind me that the end of the world is just a blinking out that comes to all of us.

7 thoughts on “Pictures and the End of the World

  1. Damn Linda, I was feeling pretty cheery today. Don’t remind me that I am mortal, there is too much mischief left that I want to get into. Is that me sitting next to you in the picture that time forgot? If so I think I remember who no smiles. I had just .said “Happy Birthday Linda” and you replied, “We are all going to die.”

    Love you,

  2. Wow. This is so true. My mother passed away in 2012 and I had the same thoughts you did: there is nobody left who remembers me as a baby. I’ve been doing a lot of genealogy research this past year and when you get back pretty far it hits you that these people are only a name in a database now. No one left to appreciate who they were.

    As for your party and your dubious look, maybe it was Pin the Tail on the Donkey that did it. I always had party game anxiety. Don’t get me started on Dropping the Clothespin in the Bottle…

    Thanks for visiting my blog. 🙂

  3. I had taken up the cause of genealogy in my family, it’s been interesting to go through old pictures and figure out who all those people are that lived long before I was ever even thought of. This is a great perspective on life, I hope we all leave an impression much to be talked about life times from now!

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