This is a photograph of my uncle, my father (in blue) and my grandfather. Taken in the mid 1980s.
Of the three, only my father still lives. My grandfather died not long after this photograph was taken of multiple organ failure. Ten years later, my uncle fell down the steep stairs of his home and smashed his skull against a wall. He was found the day after he died pressed up against the front door in a pool of blood.
The picture was taken at a family reunion of sorts involving my family, my first wife and couple of her relations. It was the last time, I think, that the family I had grown up with was all together. My grandfather on my father's side of the family had died when I was quite young and I did not know him well.
At the time of this photograph, I was a young man in his mid-twenties. Still very unsure of myself. I still regarded these adults with something of a child's viewpoint. I had not grasped the complexities of the relationships that underlay these family gatherings.
I was not fully aware of how deep a womanizer my father was. I did not appreciate the extent of the neurosis that had forced my uncle to retire in his forties and had crippled his ability to branch out into an independent existence. He would never leave home. I did not understand the depth of the anxieties that practically paralyzed my grandfather and that he managed through tobacco and alcohol.
I was the sick child. The one with depression. The one who had been diagnosed and treated. Yet still deeply self-absorbed. Too self-absorbed. But even if I had not been, the walls between my superficial understanding of what was going on and what was really happening would not have been breached. No one spoke of these issues. No one was going to.
No one ever did.