Birthday Surprises

Elizabeth's First Birthday - September 10, 1961

This photograph is fifty years old.

Taken September 10, 1961, it’s one of me with my parents, Judy and Gene Harper.

It is a bit faded and blurry, but I’ve seen it so often I think I know it by heart.

For the longest time I focused on the hugeness of the cake preferring its sweetness to a sad memory of a mother with no contact and a father who died too young.

It’s funny how your vision can change as you grow older.

You go along adapting to the shifts that occur with perception and depth until one day you look at a photograph you’ve seen forever and your eyes see something you’ve missed.

Suddenly, this still young family looks different to me.

It’s no longer the size of the cake or the look on my mother’s face that draws me in, but the image of my tiny body leaning ever so slightly towards my dad and my small hand reaching for his.

I never really noticed it before … my hand in his, and it feels like a gift of awareness, a happy birthday of sorts fifty years later from my father to me.