How Many Copies?
By SYLVIA BOORSTEIN
the birth of our first child, Michael, fifty-five years ago, my husband
Seymour and I used a photo of the three of us to make a Rosh Hashanah
greeting card. We sent it to all our family—four grandparents and
multiple aunts and uncles, whom we’d been close to as we grew up but
left behind when we’d married and moved away to California. We continued
the yearly tradition of the family photo, over time marking the
addition of another son, two daughters, dogs and cats, and, in one of
them, a pet rat.
years later, after grandchildren began to appear in the photo, we were
still taking the September picture. It had become a bit more difficult
to assemble everyone at the same place in time, and one year, feeling I
had got it done in the nick of time, I rushed to the photo store to have
“How many copies do you need?” the shopkeeper asked.
stopped to think. I was surprised to find, after a moment’s reflection,
that apart from a few assorted distant cousins, there was no one left.
That must have been almost true the year before, too. Apparently I
remember feeling disconcerted. On the one hand, I certainly knew that
time had passed and the collection of photos documented that. I just
hadn’t felt it as it was happening. I didn’t have a word, other than
odd, to describe that moment of realization.
felt much the same feeling yesterday, January 21, 2012, at the party
celebrating Seymour’s eightieth birthday. I have drawers full of photos,
albums filling whole shelves, to show that time was passing and things
were happening. It just never felt like it.
Sylvia Boorstein’ s most recent book is Happiness Is an Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life.