This weekend we move my mother-in-law from her three-bedroom apartment, into a single room at the retirement home across town. Her destination is a lovely facility on the riverbank, with a robust culture of kinship and care. It's a good move -- which is not to say it is an easy one.
Our house has taken aboard some items, including several large boxes of family pictures. My wife will sort through them in the weeks ahead. Most of these photos are fated for the curb, and the keepers will be arranged in a book my mother-in-law can leaf through at her ease.
So many typical family shots, with the subject's face at the dead-centre of the frame. Rookie mistake -- even though my father-in-law, the usual camera wielder, did indeed have an aesthete's eye. He painted canvases, and he knew how a picture ought to be framed. But when it's a shot of your grandchild, you don't do the mathematics of what makes a good composition. You put the kid's face in the centre, right where his or her being resides in your own heart.
These boxes and boxes of photos, just a shard of the legacy of the woman who provided the template of how to mother daughters. Hold their hair when they puke into the toilet, clean their faces with a cool wet washcloth; you may be an introvert, but go jump in with both feet when the nine-year-old needs a song-and-dance partner for the music festival; pour tea, and listen to the inevitable adolescent stories of heartbreak and misunderstanding, etc.