This is me, my older brother - you can tell he's my older brother by the way I've got my arm around his neck in a death grip - and my dad with Sunday the pony, back in the spring of 1972. My daddy looks so annoyed because his own father, who had a new hobby every time Wednesday came back around, at this particular time facies himself a photographer and is taking, and re-taking, this picture, with a lot of directions and instructions and orders for us models.
I suppose I look so happy because I'm completely oblivious to what is about to happen to me. If we could fast forward this picture to 10 minutes in the future on that lovely spring day, it would show me sitting in the Georgia dust crying.
Recently, on assignment from Augusta Family Magazine, I wrote about my mother and my father and the life lessons I learned from them. It included an unfolding of the events of the day pictured above.
Here's how the story begins:
When I was 12 my mother came in my bedroom where I was parked in front of the mirror closely inspecting my personal appearance, like self-absorbed adolescents do.
“My neck is too long,” I pouted.
My mother’s multitudinous options for response borderlined on the billions. She could have told me to stop with my vanity and clean my room. She could have tried to assure me that no one else would ever notice the length of my neck but me. She could have coddled me with empty compliments and told me she would always love me anyway. She could have ignored my petulant whining and walked out.
Instead, my mother said, “Long necks are elegant.” Just that, nothing more.
I had probably caught her fresh from reading the recent National Geographic featuring tribal women who elongate their necks by gradually adding one ring after another. I’m sure her tone intimated at my good fortune of being born naturally giraffe-like.
Still, that one statement, regardless of its inspiration, changed my entire perspective. I learned I could metaphorically walk around the circumference of anything, everything, until I found the best angle. If “too long” could so effortlessly and believably be transformed into “elegant,” then the world was mine to define from that point forward.
Read the rest here.