Friday, May 15, 2015


Three Kids...One of Each.
A Brother, A Sister and
A Middle Child
Last week my Mom moved to an assisted living facility.  I am the only child in the family who doesn't live in the area so I flew home to help. My sister and my niece were the operational commanders with my brother, my sister-in law, my nephew and me playing the part of the troupes. We all had assignments to do. The plan was to magically transfer Mom from her old place to her new place with a brief stay in the country at my niece's house while that move happened.
My niece and nephew took on the task of duplicating the new environment as close as possible to Mom's old place.  Both of them work as production coordinators for films so they treated the assignment like they were recreating a movie set.  In 14 hours they took a blank apartment and completely recreated Mom's world in detail.  It was amazing.

Above is a picture of old photographs of me, my brother and my sister, taken on the same day by the same photographer, mid-century. They are equal in size, background, matting, tone and frame. The pictures are a matched set.  They were displayed in this arrangement above my parents bed as long as any of us can remember.  My parents bedroom would not be complete without this birth order grouping of us kids in exactly this configuration.

My nephew used exact measurements from ceiling to floor, spacing above the head board of the bed and between each picture based upon the way it has always been.  Using a laser level and skilled precision he placed the individual wall hangers in the exact places they needed to be.  Then he carefully removed the pictures from the moving box and hung them up.

As you can see I am the middle child in our family.  There are many studies done on the significance of the birth order of siblings and how it shapes their personalities.  The archetype of the middle child would certainly be applicable to the way my life has turned out.  It would be pure ego to repeat those qualities of creativity, imagination, wisdom and joy that seem to define a middle child, so I won't. What I will say is, I have been dubbed "the golden boy" by my siblings and in spite of my career with puppets, I have definitely always been the "odd" one of the trio.  Ask around, my family is not shy about giving explicit factual examples of my oddites. I'm okay with being different. I wear my oddity like a new pair of clown shoes.

When my nephew stepped back to look at the picture arrangement hanging on the new wall, something was amiss. My picture frame (did I mention I am the one in the middle?) hung significantly higher than the other two picture frames. My nephew removed the pictures and checked the wall hangers with a level.  The three hangers were level as were the tops of the frames for of the other two pictures.  All his measurements were correct but it was still not right. It was my picture that disrupted the whole balance of the family arrangement,  my picture was elevated.

I have always looked for signs; communications from a higher vibration taking shape in physical form. I feel like these talisman-tic showings are trail markers to guide me in the right way.  They come most often as confirmation of decision when you are wondering if you made the correct turn. Their appearance is rarely note worthy, it could be things as simple as a feather on the grass, a Blue Jay flying past or a coin laying heads up on the ground.  Taking my Mother to an assisted living facility was the right move and in Mom's most lucid moments she would agree, but we were all looking for some sort of confirmation that we were indeed doing the right thing. The family was on uncharted ground.

As the set decoration team worked long into the evening recreating their Grandmother's home the reason for this activity was never far from every one's thoughts.  Placing a parent in the care of others is the painful passage of realizing you are no longer a child.  There are times the sadness of the situation causes what my niece calls "church laughter". The kind of giggles you get during a situation where laughing out loud would be offensive or at least not proper.  On the verge of tears, laughter becomes a desiderate antidote to the sadness of the moment.

My nephew discovered the hanging problem on the back of the picture frames.  Although the three pictures were framed exactly the same,  and appeared to be the same in every way, the eyelet screws attaching the wire of my picture frame was not screwed in at the same place as my brother's nor my sister's frames.  My screws were fastened to a different measurement.
With this discovery my nephew turns to his wife, my niece, and says, "Here is the trouble.  Jay is just wired differently from the others."
To which she replied, "I guess we better take him down a couple of notches."
They laughed about the discovery, as did I in the re-telling to the rest of the family. It was nice to laugh again for a moment. 
I suppose there will never be another metaphor more descriptive than this one explaining my place in the family gene pool.   It reminds me to say thanks to my brother and sister for understanding I am wired differently, and to thank my Mom for understanding I just don't hang like everyone else. It has always been so because my screws are in a different place.

As you were,


P. Grecian said...

That's just...quite lovely.

Tiger said...

I have to think that you all picked exactly the right detail to get absolutely perfect.