The Picture I Didn’t Take

June 2003

Sherwood Oregon, June 2003

For some reason I didn’t take a picture of David’s birth parents on the day I met up with them.

In 2003 Jacob had been forced to leave his old apartment and, due to non-payment, also lost everything he had in a storage unit. The reason for my visit to Sherwood OR that day was to bring him a bicycle, so he could get around for work or job interviews. David’s birth parents were no longer together as a couple but, as I suspected, the birth mother was still hanging around his new apartment.

“She has nowhere to go,” he explained after answering the door.

There happened to be a car show three blocks from his apartment, so the three of us walked around the event – talking and looking at cars for at least a couple hours. Like me, Jacob was a gear head. Unlike me, he was completely at ease in a crowd and would approach a complete stranger to ask for a cigarette (he was charismatic, and strangers always gave him one). To him there were no strangers – only people who didn’t know him yet.

Jen just liked being around Jacob.

A person could tell that her mind was a constant whir of ideas and thoughts. Equipped with an 8th-grade education, she was clearly intense and street smart. She spoke with emotion, intensity, and regret over losing parental rights of their son – David’s bio brother. Jacob produced a file folder crammed with documents that he was going to present in an upcoming court case – which he said would prove that Ryan should come back to him. And as he talked, I looked behind him at the railroad tracks stretching through Sherwood and into the distance. I snapped the picture you see here, instead of getting a picture of them.

I think back and realize that was a mistake.

How easy it would have been to say “Let’s get a picture of you two together,” but somehow that didn’t happen. Sadly, it was the last time I saw either one of them in person. Walking around the car show with them was actually quite fun; what I enjoyed about their personalities then is coming out in David’s personality now. Like Jen, David’s head is always thinking, connecting, scheming, solving. Like Jacob, David is quick to approach someone to ask a question – even if the person is a stranger or someone he has never met. Our son exhibits the best parts of his birth parents’ personalities. So when I see him, I think of them. And when I think of them, I think of this picture.

And that image of them together remains a permanent memory.

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