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An Old Photograph
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I looked through a family photo album with my mom. She talked about the people in the photographs and what they had been doing fifty and sixty years ago when their pictures were taken, even though she wouldn't have remembered me taking the album down off the shelf ten minutes earlier.

I turned a page and she said to me, "Now who's that?"

The "who" was me. Little more than a year old, being held by my grandfather. It wasn't that my mom didn't remember. Not yet. I've been asked that question when we come to that snapshot every time we've looked through family photos, for half a century.

The first time I must have been stumped. When I was starting grade school it struck me as funny and incredible that I -- who could read and write the alphabet -- had once been a tiny helpless baby.

As a teenager, to whom stupid old pictures were unendurably boring, I was just embarrassed.

When I became a young man, and went through albums on visits back home, I reflected on how long it felt since I'd been a child and since my grandfather had been gone. I was aware of having a past, already long and rich, but I was only just at the beginning of everything. The future seemed infinite.

After my own children were born, the photo of myself and my grandfather reminded me of my kids and their grandfather, my dad. The small creature in the crook of my grandfather's arm bore no resemblance to me any longer. I had become more like the invisible photographer, who must certainly have been my dad, although I hadn't thought about it before.

Today, I can't help remembering dad who's gone too.

There will be a day I turn the pages of the album by myself and when I come to that picture I'll remember how my mom used to ask me, "Now who's that?"

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