Empty Photo Album

by Pearle Harbour
page two

When I open my family album, Auntie Lou is there in her too bright clothes and big smile. Auntie Lou was such an individualist. I always admired her free spirit and guts to be herself. Then there is Uncle Joe who was a little short and fat, but he could cook better than most women. Together they were the talk of the town and sometimes it was rather cruel gossip. They lived life to the fullest with an undying love for each other. No matter small minded people, Auntie Lou would say. As long as you know the truth, that’s all that matters.

Our family, both sides, shape who we are and fill our lives with valuable memories. We steal from these children irretrievable moments they could have enjoyed in their lives.

In my family album, Uncle Frank, is always throwing horseshoes. We all thought he’d quit one day. Uncle Frank wasn’t very good, but we didn’t tell him that – he enjoyed the game too much. Uncle Frank loved children and he loved horseshoes. Oh, and he loved his wife, my Aunt Laurie. She always told him with a big smile and lots of love in her eyes “it was the wind honey. Keep practicing.” I always thought it was sad they could never have any children of their own. How lucky their foster children were and what memories captured in photographs they made together.

When I open my family album, tears fill my eyes when I touch a picture of my brother, John, my best friend, who died too young. John taught me true sibling love. Without his short time on earth, I may never have known how wonderful it was to have a brother who didn’t see my faults – only his big sister. When I touch his photo, I know John still watches over his big sister from Heaven.

Sadness fills my heart for those children who will never know their other grandparents and other relatives because death took them away before they could know the truth. Before a child could decide what their best interests were for themselves.

My family album has lots of good memories and memories which bring tears to my eyes. But, they are my times and my memories forever frozen in photographs. Photographs I can take out and look at whenever I chose.

If my memories become faded or foggy with time and age, I can open up my family album and smile again while I remember. I can be sad at the loss of family members because they meant so much to me. I can touch their photos and thank God they were in my life because they are a part of who I am today. Any sadness turns to a loving memory of what I had in my life. Memories no one can take from me. Memories I can pass onto my own children.

I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!!

Do you want to be the one who has to explain why there are no pictures of the other parent? Do you want to explain why there are no pictures of other relatives?

Who has the right to steal any child’s heritage and family album from them?

What of all those special moments? Precious memories never captured on film with the other parent and other relatives. Never mind. You have those precious memories of you and your side of the family with your children. It can’t be that important to a child, can it? What do they know. They are only children.

All I see and read in our media anymore is how the custodial parent (predominantly mothers) feel the pain when on those rare occasions they lose custody of their children.

Perhaps if more mothers felt the pain an empty photo album causes their children, they would understand what they are doing to their own children.

Was it fair to take their memories away from them? Oh, I forgot – you did what was best for your children.

Selfish and controlling come to mind. Not love nor best interests of our children, when I think of all these innocent children who will never see if they looked like their daddy (or mommy). Nor will they ever know the memories of those of us who have a family album. How will these children retrace their family history one day?

Do judges, lawyers, counselors, or anyone in our legal system, understand what their decisions are doing to our children and non-custodial parents? Do they all have a family album? Can they fathom future memories they are stealing from our children and non-custodial parents?

Those who are deciding the best interests of our children have forgotten and do not care whether there will be photos for our children. They don’t even care whether these children will have unanswered questions they take to their graves themselves one day.

Do we really understand the consequences and repercussions of things we do today in the name of the best interests of our children?

How many empty photo albums will there be in the 21st century?

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Copyright 1999 Pearle Harbour
Not to be reprinted without the permission of the author.
Author of Guerilla Divorce Warfare
Gender Bias in Our Family Court System
Feminism: Beauty or the Beast