In the photograph, they are in black and white, and they are young and beautiful. The three are standing in the snow, on what looks like maybe a frozen lake, bundled in their winter coats. Their smiles convey warmth and love and happiness. My Dad still has all his hair, and is still thin and muscular, and movie-star handsome. My Mom, gently leaning on my Dad, is every bit his match, her skin still unwrinkled by time, and thin and mid-twenties young. My Dad is holding my oldest brother, Mike. Bundled in his winter coat and hat, he isn’t smiling but looks warm and natural and loved in his Father’s arms.
They are unaware, standing there in the snow, that the three will eventually become six. They know nothing about cancer or mental illness or congestive heart disease. They have no perception of how fast nearly 60 years will pass. They have no way of knowing that in that time, they will all be gone, and they know nothing of the other three they will leave behind.
They have no way of knowing that nearly 60 years later, on a warm Saturday in September, the photo will be posted on a bulletin board in the dining hall in a senior community in the town of Bruce, Wisconsin. They can’t conceive the enormity of loss and the depths of emotion that the photo will inspire.
They are just a young family, standing in the snow near their home, having their picture taken.