Petunia and I reached the crowning glory of thirty five years of martial, I mean , marital bliss! Forty dollars worth of roses and a meal she could have cook for 1/10th the price at the local gourmet cafeteria and we were back home to await the dessert and gift our beloved offspring had planned. Usually Petunia had to nag,remind and blackmail the freeloading hoboes to come up with some lame sign of appreciation for their fantastic upbringing but this time she assured me that they did it all on their own... This was enough to make me suspicious.
But I trusted her if not them and sure enough they paraded through the door right on time -all dozen of them now that our four boys had multiplied somehow into a throng of men, women ,children and dogs. Day old baked goods in hand, we managed to consume the supermarket rejects and the time for the big gift arrived. To my surprise it was the newest, latest digital picture frame already loaded with our lifetime of family photos. Configured in a slideshow of 60 second exposures of the thousands of images now referred to as gigs, that word used to mean something my jazz band weasled at a local dive. Now it had come to mean some number bigger than I would ever make but close to the number on my doctor's scale.
Well to tell you the truth I really felt that the time had arrived...that long-awaited time when parents are finally thanked and satisfied that their children had turned out better than they did. That was until a pretty common sleepless night set me before the miracle frame and I started to see the images of my life and theirs that they deemed worthy for memorializing... for a full minute...each... frozen in time!
A little league game with me on my feet screaming at some poor volunteer ump ... someone's birthday party with me looking pretty drunk....the family trip to the Grand Canyon when I hung off the mule looking drunker than I did at whoever's party had just disapppeared from the screen when really I was just acrophobically challenged......A candid of me with my mouth stuffed with an italian hero at a Yankee game......(Each humiliation seemed to last longer and longer).......The time when I set the Christmas tree on fire by using a really old set of electric lights.
On and on they came full minute preservations ,like a bug caught in amber, each of the ridiculous moments of their Life With Father. Just as I was about to try to get back to sleep and far away from the past I had always suspected was there forever to condemn me in the scarred memory of that thing people call family,I gave the new-fangled screen one last look.
There before my eyes was a phantasm of some really young me on a Christmas eve long ago, crouched over some impossible to assemble bicycle-at this stage it was more uni than bi. A trail of words appeared across the bottom of the screen obscuring the pile of tools I never really learned to use. The words programmed into a loop kept telling me ...Y...O...U...D...I...D...Y...O...U...R...B...E...S...T...........! You Did Your Best!