Resurrecting Donald

Ghosts of times past

Niece Carol writes: "Uncle Paul--Ever since I read your chronicle about beholding the begotten, it has been bothering me that you do not have a picture of your brother Donald. While I was not able to locate the exact one I was looking for, I did manage to come up with some others that might be of interest to you."

Wasn't that sweet? Niece Carol apparently inherited the archaeology gene, as did my sister Florence, aka "Sis." The two of them have an uncanny ability to unearth "treasures" squirreled away. This is a mixed blessing for the rest of us: On the one hand we are free from the responsibility to keep track of our own mementos, for they have a copy somewhere. On the other hand, they can also lay their hands on things one would prefer never see the light of day.

Williamson family 1977 Williamson family, 1977

So this is what brother Donald looked like back in 1977. It's not the best image, but it's the best retouching job I could do. I have no idea what the occasion was, but I obviously wasn't present. Donald is the tall one standing in the back. The middle row (L-R) is Edna, Sis, Ethel, and Harold. My parents, Bob and Helen Williamson, are in the front with their ferocious Pomeranian watchdog (he said, facetiously). The dog would bark as fiercely as the hound of the Baskervilles when people were around to protect him, but hid behind the couch at other times.

Among the pictures sent by Niece Carol was this one:

Williamson family 1988
Williamson family, 1988.

The picture must have been taken just after my mother's funeral. My father is seated in front, with Harold, Ethel, Sis, and Edna (L-R) in the center. Donald is in the back row with dark glasses and a plaid shirt.

But it was two other things that I found most interesting (appalling?) about the picture.

family tree

• The first is the framed "art" on the left in the picture. It is a depiction of the Williamson family tree, created by Sis. The branches are the six Williamson siblings, from which hang little red apples representing their offspring, round apples for girls, diamond-shaped apples for boys (it may have been the other way around), each carefully marked with date of birth (and death in a couple of cases). The first time I ever saw this objet d'art, Sis took enormous pleasure in pointing out that my branch was the barren twig sticking up from the top. I guess she must have known there would never be any apples to weight it down.

Paul 1988

• The second is the tall guy in back with the black T-shirt and mustache. By the process of elimination, I am forced to reach the conclusion that it is me. However, I absolutely cannot remember ever looking like that. On the other hand, I do recognize the shirt as a finisher's shirt from a 10-K race in Honolulu. And I did wear a mustache (full beard, too, at one time), so it has to be me. Good lord, I'm too old for this!

So now Niece Carol can rest easier, knowing that I have updated the collage of the Williamson clan. But she needs to realize it has been a trauma to my self-image.