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After all, you do have parents, right?

Someone said that on one of the boards I read. It wasn't addressed to me, and it was in a completely different context, but it has been running around in my brain.

I saw a photograph of my mother today.

She looks older than I remember. I still see her as being about forty in my mind. Like she was in the photo I found recently lying on the basement floor. I snapped that photo when I was around fifteen. She was young, sitting in her bathrobe on a Christmas morning. She looked happy. I picked it up.

I'm forty now, and I see her when I look in the mirror.

She has my grandmother's face and my great grandmother's. Heavier, but the same severe Hispanic look, black hair swept back off her forehead, with a slightly darker complexion than mine. Still in my eyes, she is beautiful.

So now I know what I'll look like when I'm sixty four.

She was wearing black. Her eyes are closed, and the photo was in profile. She looked depressed. Definitely not her best photo.

Still, I knew her.

I hadn't expected to run into her today. I haven't seen her in nearly fourteen years. When she heard I would been at my sister's in-law's home for the big Fourth of July barbecue, she decided not to attend.

I had just clicked a link into an online photo album of my nephew's Boy Scout Eagle ceremony. I didn't expect to see a photo of her. I don't know why. I just didn't expect it.

I saw a photo of my father today.

He looks old. Old and withered. His face was skull-like.

When I was back home this summer, there was a day when I was out driving with my sister and my daughter, and my sister said, "oh my gosh, don't look left". Of course I did, but I didn't know what I was looking at right at first. My father had driven up beside my truck at the stoplight. He didn't realize it, because he has never seen my truck. I couldn't see him from the angle I was sitting, but my daughter looked with great curiosity at the man she has heard about but never met. It was then that my sister told me that he had a stroke back in January. The light changed and he drove away but I never really saw him. He was still driving a white van. Just like he had driven all those years ago.

He looks old. I didn't even recognize him at first. Then I saw a second photo of him, more close up, and I could see a little of the man I used to know. He was leaning forward the way he does. I recognised that first. He doesn't look anything like my grandfather.

His hair is mostly grey now, and his hairline has receded long past his forehead. I remember him, with his black hair and cheesy comb-over trying to hide the beginning signs of his bald pate. How I hated him.

I hated him. I hated his white van. I hated being in the same house with him. I hated him for the things he did to me. I hated him for the things he made me do. I planned his death, then prayed to God that I wouldn't have to kill him. My prayers were answered. Thank you, God.

He looks like death. Somehow it seemed appropriate.

My mother never forgave me for telling the truth. She never forgave me for making her give up her life of denial. She never forgave me for refusing to pretend everything was just fine and it had never happened. It did happen. It happened to a little twelve year old girl who had no idea why. It happened to a thirteen year old girl who had grown old far beyond her years. It happened on a Christmas morning trapped in a hotel room, while my family was up at my Godmother's house a hundred yards away. It continued to happen until I was seventeen and finally said those words.

I saw photos of my parents today.

Still they are dead to me. Or more to the point, I am dead to them. It's not a bad thing. I really don't want to be sucked into that whirling pool of dysfunction, but I grieve for them still. And today I wept.

Yes, I have parents.

I saved the photos.

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