I have no recollection of this bon voyage party for my aunt and uncle in May 1962.
I've seen other pictures. Many people were there that day in our 3-bedroom apartment in New York. Not exactly an easy place to avoid 20 adults.
And yet, this day is not in my memory.
Here are my uncle and aunt, grandparents and parents, all dolled up for the event. The dining room table is decked out with candles and chocolate cake. Someone holds a wine glass on the left.
Dad's eyes are shut (in nearly every photograph of him, it was thus). Mom, 40-something, looks fabulous. Everyone looks happy, even my grandfather, who had had a stroke some years before. I like a man who can rock a bow tie, and a red one, at that.
I want to step into this moment and interview everyone (which is probably what I wanted to do in 1962, so I was farmed out to a neighbor so I wouldn't go all Edward R. Murrow during the party).
I want to ask my grandfather who his great-grandfather was. I want to thank my grandmother for sending me $5 every blessed week that I was in college. I want to get rid of that stupid ashtray on the end table and yell, "Smoking will kill you!"
The only non-smoker, my grandmother, will make it almost to 100. Not so for everyone else.
Photographs quick-capture vitality and hold it for all time. When we look back, maybe we shore up our own light, their gift to us in the first place.
Happy Mother's Day, everyone.