negative

by Mary Anne Harrison

A few years after my Dad died, my Mom was moving from the family farm into Almonte to her first apartment. She was 82. We thought it would be easier for her not having to drive all the time for groceries and appointments, and that she would be closer to her sister and friends. We felt she was spending too much time on her own and that this would widen her social circle.

As she  and I sorted through her belongings in preparation for the move we had to decide what to take, what to throw away, what to give to charity and what to pass on to family members. There were some very sad decisions to make but we also did lots of reminiscing and Mom shared with me all kinds of stories of her and my father’s life together. We missed him terribly.

Once we were done, we drove in to town and left the discarded belongings at The Hub, Almonte’s second-hand store, so that they could be resold and the money would go to charity. As we drove away we never gave the items a second thought. A week later we opened up our local paper and there in black and white was a 4 x 6 picture of my father, with a story to accompany it.

A gentleman had gone in to The Hub and bought one of Mom’s old suitcases. When he got it home he went through the suitcase and found a black and white negative inside a tattered envelope with the word Daddy written in pencil on the front.

Knowing that this photo certainly meant something to someone, he took it to the Almonte Gazette and asked if they would publish it in order to get it back to its rightful owner. The Gazette did just that and their story asked readers to contact them if they knew who “Daddy” was. Immediately, the calls started coming in fast and furious; readers knew the man in the picture. It was their brother, their uncle, their brother-in-law, their neighbour, their friend, their cousin, their favourite bus driver. The staff at the Gazette were astonished by the response.

Mom and I went to the Gazette office right away to claim our negative and thanked the staff for taking such good care of it. They also gave us the name of the man that found the negative and we called him and thanked him for re-uniting Mom, Daddy and me.

A small town like Almonte really did go the extra mile for us and we sure appreciated it. The move wasn’t easy on either one of us and we were always second guessing ourselves if it was the right decision. Because of someone willing to take the time to return that one little negative to us, it meant the world. We really believed that it was Daddy’s way of telling us that everything was going to be okay.

Mom eventually moved one more time – from her apartment to a nursing home just a few blocks away. She will be turning 93 next month and there is not a day that goes by that she does not look at, in her words, “that famous picture of Daddy” on her bedside table.