Loving family? Fun party? Seething resentment? Monumental discomfort? Let’s take a look.
The Cast (left to right):
Mildred Lorraine Palmer Gough Tebbs (there will be three more last names added to that string before she takes her final bow). Also known as my maternal grandmother. She’s probably 42 in this photo. She’s feisty, out-spoken, opinionated, prefers men to women in all cases and loves a good cocktail.
Paul Tebbs, my grandfather and stepfather to my mother, although she will always consider him her true father. He is a man of few words and will speak up only when it will benefit someone else. He’s an engineer by day and raises cattle for fun on the weekends. He loves good cigars, which will eventually kill him. He’s 48 here.
My mother. Helen Louise Gough Tebbs Grimes. She believed she was controlled by her domineering mother until she met my father, who ripped the puppet strings right out of Mildred’s hands. Although, while everyone was still alive the mastery would pass back and forth between hands. She’s creative, talented and beautiful, but it’s not enough. She taught herself to like scotch but would prefer a glass of wine. She’s about 22 here. And I’m probably 11 minutes old.
Donald Earl Grimes, about 36 in this photo. Too intelligent for anyone’s good, charming, sarcastic with a side of mean, always right and incredibly artistically talented. And married. Not to my mother. With three daughters. Of which I am the youngest and the only one belonging to my mother. Oh, and he also loves a good cocktail.
I have no idea what occasion would put them all in such close proximity, but I would almost guarantee a minimum of one high ball each has been had. If gin is involved things will begin to deteriorate rapidly. My grandfather will begin to play interference and eventually guide my grandmother out the door or to bed. My mother will tug at my father’s pant leg or laugh, tilt her head and then say, we really should be going, or it’s getting late, but her words will evaporate before they reach the sensible part of his brain. The situation may escalate, words spat with enough venom to start a revolution. But there will be no apologies the next day or the next time they’re all in the same room. It never happened. And it will happen again.
Even so, I love this photo. For what it says as much as for what it hides.
Instagram didn’t invent The Brightside, it just offers a few more filters.