The photograph above is my all-time favorite, the back story of which I will share more about later, so stick with me.
On November 13, I ranted about something Trumpian on Facebook, which prompted my dear and old college friend Ken to post this response: “I like it better when you are happy.”
Happy Teri seems like an oxymoron to me, although not quite at the jumbo shrimp level.
But Ken’s one-liner called me to happy action. Sort of.
Now, the last blog post I wrote back on October 17, was about My Elephant, which was not even close to happy.
So, in honor of Ken’s request, on November 14, I set to writing a happy Teri blog post.
November 14 turned into November 21, and then Thanksgiving arrived.
For those of you who are not in the know, holidays don’t make Teri happy.
So, I figured I would wait until early December to find my happy, but then, you know…those damn Christmas songs on FM 106.7 that I hate to listen to, but can’t stop myself from listening to, make anything remotely close to happy Teri, impossible.
Teri with her hands tightly glued to the steering wheel bawling her eyes out, while weepily singing ♪Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire ♪ would not make Ken proud.
I promised myself—for Ken—that I would not write another post unless it contained some morsel of happy Teri.
(FYI: I have never gone this long without blogging, so thanks for nothing, Ken.)
Fast forward to Christmas Eve, and here I am still searching for any flicker of happy for my next blog post.
Flicker? Just writing the word has me teetering toward the dark side.
It’s Christmas Eve. You know what that means—the dreaded flickering yule log. Just thinking about those wretched logs perfectly burning in that perfect fireplace makes me well up with unhappiness.
So here I am sitting at my desk at 4:38 pm on Christmas Eve, and I’m struggling Ken.
Almost ready to throw in the happy towel, I look around my desk and think that maybe something might give.
And there it is. Sitting right in front of me on my desk, in all its glory.
The fave photo of me with my grandmother, Mammy (pronounced May-Me), given to me in 2001 by my aunt—the first time I met my father’s family.
I had never seen the photo before, and I was obsessed with it for so many reasons, and on so many levels.
But mostly because I saw a happy Teri. Okay, I wasn’t full-on smiling, but oh my, look at that grin.
Now mind you, I’m sure at whatever age I was in the photo, I didn’t know anything about happiness. It seems to me that being happy is an adult obsession.
My aunt presented the black and white photo to me at a lunch she hosted at her home with my other aunt and three of my half-siblings for what I assumed was our first-ever meeting.
It was an out of body experience for sure.
But even weirder than meeting my aunts and siblings at forty-eight years old was that photograph of Mammy and me in front of a Christmas tree.
My eldest aunt explained in meticulous detail that the photo was taken at my grandmother’s apartment on Huron Street. (Now for any of you that know me or have read my posts, Huron Street does not make Teri happy.)
She went on to tell me a lovely Christmas Eve story about my two aunts being there, as well as my Uncle Lou (whom I met at age seven under an extremely violent circumstance), and my mom.
I fingered the photo gently. I traced my grandmother’s heart-shaped face juxtaposed to my chubby round one.
I spoke out loud, explaining to my newly found family, where, in the Huron Street living room, it looked like the tree stood—most likely in the far-left corner. I told them that I was certain we were seated in the old musty club chair that sat in that room for years.
Mammy’s arm was protectively wrapped around me, and she looked glowing. My tiny hand was lightly touching hers.
Behind us, I could see a stocking hung on the tree, most likely home-made by Mammy, and a card perched on a branch that may or may not have been Mother Mary. I wondered if my dress was also home-made.
“Were we both dressed in white?” I asked my aunt. She couldn’t remember.
When I came back to my grinning face, I noticed my eyes. They were gazing up at someone. And I could tell—that someone was special. Very special. Happy special.
There was a happy twinkle in those eyes; I could see it. Can you?
The studying eyes were intently fixed—staring steadily, watchfully, and with complete adoration. The person on the receiving end was making baby Teri immensely happy.
“Who am I looking at?” I asked my aunt.
She couldn’t remember.