I wanted something taken inside a studio with professional lighting by a photographer who really knows his business. To me pictures are a legacy. They are a huge part of a family's history.
I mentioned my need to friends while we were sitting at fireside over a glass of wine. It touched off a chain reaction. In essence, nobody had a picture of their entire family.
"We talked about it for years, then it was too late," one man said. "The children got older and began leaving town one at a time. How I wished I had listened to my conscience."
There were the weddings, he said, but on those occasions the portrait got cluttered with people who weren't actually part of the immediate clan.
Another said he had thought about having a portrait taken and then his oldest son was killed in an automobile accident. All he had left were a few school pictures.
That made my resolution firm. We were going to set a date for our family portrait. If nothing else, it would make my mom happiest. The woman was in her 90s and would cherish such a picture for her remaining years. She would have so many reasons to boast.
I circled the date on a calendar. Then I notified everyone and the reaction hit me like whiplash. The oldest one proclaimed he had nothing decent to wear when everyday work clothes would have sufficed in her case.
One of the boys had a hockey game he didn't want to miss. The other was busy with school work and told me if I wanted to see distinction grades, the family picture could wait.
A cold war was being waged over a simple photograph. Guess who lost?
The best I could do was take everyone's picture individually, point the camera at myself, get my wife to refrain from blinking, and place them all into a single frame.