Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Postcards (08/29/05)
TITLE: Lost and Found
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I looked through all the photograph albums and in the old shoeboxes filled with pictures of brother, sister, mother, father, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I came up empty in so many ways. I settled for another picture that showed a younger, happier me, but not the joyous child that I longed to see.
I was convinced that I had seen that picture in a photograph album about a year ago when I had been at my mother’s house for a visit. Somehow, it had vanished from the page. I congratulated myself silently that I was willing to settle for another picture, but, just the same, I asked my mother to keep looking for the missing picture, and, if she found it, to mail it to me. I hoped that maybe it was not lost after all, only misplaced.
Remembering one place that neither of us had looked, my mother went back to her bedroom and returned with a box of photographs. In it, there were pictures of my mother’s brothers, sisters, mother, father, grandparents, aunts and uncles. There was not one picture of the suntanned, smiling me.
Then, I saw it, a picture postcard. The postmark was Rockford, Illinois, dated 1910. This was in the early days of the twentieth century when men wore high-collared shirts and dark suits and sat stiffly in high-backed chairs to have their pictures made. My grandfather looked so handsome sitting there.
I turned over the postcard and found that it was addressed to his future bride, my grandmother, who was living in a small Kentucky town. My grandfather was working for the railroad far away from home. I speculated that he was probably lonely because once when he told me about visiting Chicago during his railroading days, he stated, “Chicago was no place for a country boy.”
I found something completely unexpected when I read what he had written. Instead of a short bit of prose, there was a tender poem. Instantly, I knew something about my grandfather that I had never known before. He was a writer, and not only a writer; he was a poet. This hardworking, no-nonsense farmer wrote words of love on the back of a picture postcard.
In that moment, my admiration and feeling of kinship with my grandfather deepened. I pondered that perhaps we shared a poet’s soul. I found a treasure in that picture postcard, and, oddly enough, I found something else. I found a picture of myself.
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