I was born September 18, 1953, in Harper Hospital in Detroit. My mother reports that I must have been anxious for my arrival because her easy forceps delivery went well, which was a blessing for her, given that she was thirty-five when I arrived. In those days, any pregnant woman over thirty was considered “up in age” and became an eyebrow raiser. My father always told me I was a “beautiful baby” and our family photographs prove him right. “But in fact,” he would add in later years, “all of our children were beautiful.” Fortunately, my birth brought change to the family without a repeat of the previous turmoil and the transition was as smooth as if planned. The hospital was a short distance from home, straight up Gratiot Avenue just miles to downtown Detroit. Obviously, I have no recollection of arriving home, but I imagine a triumphant first meeting between my brother, my sister, my grandma, and me. I suspect there was some sibling uncertainty about my arrival, and based on what I know of them as adults, I would imagine they exchanged words about me. My brother might have said “What a treasure” with my sister replying, “When do we bury it?” An old joke, yes, but this might have been the most candid reflection of the feelings that were evident even then. Pink and lively, I was a cheerful seven-plus-pound brand-new sister with a noted good disposition. Still, they saw me for all I was worth: baby bottles, diaper changes, and a smiling, attention-taking, spit-drooling nighttime interrupter. In time, there would be no escaping the knowledge they couldnʼt share with me then. The storyline would follow: three children brought together by design, in the course of a twist and turn of life. Three very impressionable children circumstantially lacking hopefulness while sharing an environment filled with unhealthy parental behaviors.

Childhood, huh? They say the mind never forgets, and yet I remember little of my childhood, so I have cautiously used the information of others to fill in the blanks. As the years have unfolded, the truth has been revealed to expose the vivid dramatic situations that played out. Lack of memory may be a good thing. While I sum up the early days with details that are loose, lost, or unpleasant, I am not all that anxious to open up this psychiatric Pandoraʼs Box. But the upside for me is the thought of my father and his camera, film, bulbs, and our poses.

He was able to capture the split seconds of life on black-and-white glossies now stored in a box, and they have become my picture window of insight into our world. What my father exposed through nostalgia quietly enlightens me and gives me comfort. It is relatively easy to distinguish me from the others in our family. I am the youngest girl and I have a deep set of dimples, one in each cheek, and Iʼm having a good time. I know this because Iʼm smiling from ear to ear. Even so, I get frustrated with the vagueness of the photos because I want to know more about the who, what, when, where, why, and how of them. I wonder about the turmoil. If Iʼm really at point B but it feels like Z, how in the hell did I get past A?