It is a photo I can still see in my mind, and in it:
You are standing next to your son, calling him “Sonny” or “Junior”– which he has always hated. Your hair tightly curled; your lips exaggerated red like my dolls. I remember the rosy cheeks—almost perfect rounds and the strong perfume which was overpowering to me. You were loud and laughed when dad seemed embarrassed. Your hands waving in the air—your brightly painted nails interrupting my listening. You were a mystery then, but the answers have come over time to the questions I asked in my mind. I don’t have a copy of that photo, but nevertheless, it is indelibly engraved.
We moved far away from where you were, and so this is my only “in person” memory of you. But I have formed you and filled in the blanks where no one has given answers. Was it something you regretted, not having us close? You had already separated yourself early on in my dad’s life, and in your place he had grandparents. They loved him, but could never replace an absent mother and father. Was it what you wanted for him, or was it what you wanted for yourself, that took over?