The following post is about a short, yet clarifying conversation between me and my father when I was about four years old.
I was raised by young parents. When they got married in the middle of the sixties, my mothers wedding dress was a bit tight in the waist. 4 ½ months later, my brother was born. This was never a shameful topic. My mother explained it quite simple: «Your dad and I sweetheart-cuddled a lot, and your brother grew in Mummy’s belly. Then, after we got married, we cuddled even more, and then you grew in my belly.
I have always been a hypersensitive person, but as a child I felt almost like I was without a filter. Was easily hurt or teased by others. My brother took great advantage of that. (Until later, when my life got tough, he was steady as a rock). One of his favorite acts was to lead me to our parents wedding picture; point at it, and say «I’m in the picture. You’re not!» I was devastated every time.
As time went by, he rubbed it in even more: «I was looking at the whole wedding through a hole in Mummy’s belly button.» I thought this was really unfair, and as time went by I started to imagine I could see his face in the pattern of the laces of Mummy’s wedding dress. This sibling drama went on and on, and he perfected his act. He could just nod his head in the direction of the picture, and even without a single word said, I would burst into tears in a split second.
It was after one of these incidents that my father found me crying by the wedding picture. My brother had wisely disappeared into thin air. «It’s not fair that Brother is in the picture and l am not!» I was just as angry and heartbroken, as only a four year old can be. I suppose my father realized that this was a topic that would go on and on for years, unless he put an end to the whole argument.
«Sure, you’re in the picture as well. Don’t you see it?» I stopped crying. No, I couldn’t, but he had caught my attention. He pointed at the left jacket pocket on his coat in the picture. «You were right there. In my ‘roe bag’.» Through tear dripping eyes I could see it more and more clearly. Without any need for further explanation, I just knew that a ‘roe bag’ looked just like the fabric inside his pockets. Figure that! I was there all along. In our first family portrait.