Yesterday I saw a photo on facebook of one of my relatives, John McKenna (aka Jack) that was posted by his son Steve in remembrance of Father’s Day. Jack was the son of my uncle Frank, my father’s older brother. In the photo he is looking at his grandson. It is amazing how many memories a photo can stir up. I see a bit of uncle Frank in him. I have happy memories from the few times we did meet. At this point they are mostly a collection of images. He spent a bit of time with us when my father died and his presence made a difference at the wake and funeral. The Irish do wakes very well. Neither Jack nor I are 100% Irish but I think this trait/gene is a dominant one. He obviously liked family but our generational differences meant we didn’t have many occasions to meet. The last time I saw him was at a party to celebrate a baptism (not sure who but the party was at Mary Jane’s so it was probably my niece Patty). In any event it was both sad and happy to look at that photo. Sad because I never knew him well and never will now, happy because it is a pleasure to recall the times he spent with my family. Luckily for Steve his father met at least one grandchild.
I have few photos of my father now. I do have some negatives in storage somewhere and if I ever got a film scanner I could digitize them. Since I don’t have children, I never participated in the kinds of family events that people canonize on film. Since I have been an amateur photographer for years, I have taken hundreds of family photos for other peoples canonical events, but few for me. So, I have little to jog my memory. Sometimes the stray TV show will impress itself on me (when I was working away from home and living in hotels, I loved watching the Sopranos, it felt as if I was home again), but little is truly personal.
Some years ago in Brooklyn (was it at a graduation party), I heard my older cousins reminisce about my father and grandfather. They knew my father when my parents still lived in Paterson. They said some nice things about my grandfather, who was in his late 80’s at the time they are talking about. All a vanished world I no longer have any access to.
So, here is my Father’s day, few photos and fading memories.