By Teresa Mottet
I moved from my farm home of 61 years to a condo in Fairfield in December. My furniture and drapes were in place, and I put my decorative clocks up, but I never took time to put any pictures on the walls. I was too busy quilting.
Last week I finally took two days to put up my “gallery,” as we called it on the farm. Using masking tape, I marked out a rectangle on the wall above the sofa 78 inches wide (the length of the sofa) and 36 inches high. The pictures went in this area. I had this arrangement on the farm for more than 30 years before it was fashionable to have groupings of pictures on the walls; now fashion has caught up with me.
It took two days to get them all up, these pictures I had not seen for almost 10 months. Each one had a story to tell. There are photos of ancestors:
Francis’ great-grandfather (also named Francis Mottet) who was born in France in 1815 and came to the U.S. as a young man. In the photo he and his wife have serious expressions; the resemblance Francis bore to this ancestor is remarkable. A picture of his mother’s parents is there, presumably the wedding picture. They, too, had serious expressions.
The 15 members of the Riverside Municipal Band back in the 1920s: There is Francis’ dad as a young man, posed with a bass drum which he played. All are dressed in suits, white shirts, ties and military-style caps. Playing in the band was important business.
There are wedding pictures: Francis and me (1948); my parents (1918) and his parents (1916); my 1946 high school graduation picture with 19 classmates from Brighton High School. Of the 19, 10 are deceased. I look at the picture with fond memories of good times.
There are family pictures; my siblings, myself and our parents in one picture when I was about 9 years old. I had four brothers and one sister. There is another photo of us taken as adults. My brothers are now deceased.
There are two of Francis’ family: one of him and his siblings taken when he was about 12 years old (he was the oldest child), and another taken just before he left for the army in World War II. His parents are in that one. A separate 8×10 portrait of him in his army uniform (head and shoulders) reminds me of how he looked when I met him and fell in love, after he returned from service in 1946.
Baby pictures of our four children are there, along with kindergarten and high school graduation pictures, reminders of how fast they grew up. My baby picture and Francis’ are there also. Our kids’ wedding pictures were in the arrangement when I lived on the farm and had more wall space for it, but here I put the four wedding pictures in the hallway and they look just right.
There are a few notable snapshots of our travels: Francis in front of St. Basil’s in Moscow’s Red Square, at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, at St. Peter’s in Rome, the Parthenon in Athens, in Jerusalem at Galileo’s tomb. I even have a tiny picture of Calico, our 16-year-old house cat.
A few priests and some other dear friends grace my wall, and each picture brings back a flood of memories. They are reminders that time marches on, but the love and the connections that we form with others go on forever. This is my “cloud of witnesses” as the Bible says in Hebrews 12:1.
Now that I have them all up on the wall I don’t feel so alone. All my witnesses are here too, and I see them and think of them every day. I pray for them, and ask the deceased ones to pray for me and help guide my days. Now it feels like home.
(Teresa Mottet lives in Fairfield.)