Monday, May 9, 2011

My Profile Picture: Its Significance in My History, and the Conscience-Lacking Relatives on Dad's Side Who Are Responsible

My parents will not allow an up=to-date picture of me because i'm supposed to be semianonymous in this blog. I'm not even granted access to any of my parents' equipmemt that can scan photos for posting. My dad asked me if I wanted a photo from when I was very young as a profile pic.I said, "Sure." Then he scanned one of me that was taken when I was about six months old and had my left index finger up my left nostril. If the timing was such that any of you saw it, PLEASE try to block the image from your mind. Permanently. I told him to take it down. He said he would, but he was taking his sweet time, so my mom took it down for him.

Dad found another picture. I agreed that it could be used because it's kind of funny. It's many of my relatives' favorite picture of me, though for different reasons. The circumstances surrounding the picture were that my mom was being treated for cancer at a hospital, presumably in Los Angeles. It was the week spanning Thanksgiving. My father needed to be with my mother. The logical aunt to take care of us was also battling cancer at the same time, and her own children were farmed out to other relatives, so my father's choice of child-care providers was limited. My brother and I were to stay with my paternal grandparents until my father and mother returned home. Situations had arisen years earlier that had caused my parents to vow that my brother and I would never again be placed in the care of our paternal grandparents, but an unforeseen complication such as cancer will sometimes cause people to take back their words.

It was an unplanned trip, so my dad had not packed carefully. He just opened up drawers and threw a few articles of clothing into a suitcase and put us on a plane from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. My dad had to produce my passport to prove my age, because the airline employees would not believe I was nearly six. At that time, for that particular airline, if I recall correctly, the minimum age for flying unaccompanied by an adult was five, and even for five- and six-year-olds, an extra fee was required for the additional supervision.

On Thanksgiving Day, when the picture was taken, I woke up after breakfast had been served, so I was told I couldn't have breakfast. No one had found the time to wash any of the few mismatched outfits my father had thrown together than I had worn, so my aunt brought over an outfit her daughter had outgrown that wasn't even in good enough condition for Deseret Industries or Goodwill to accept. I was probably wearing the same underwear as the day before (too much information) because I doubt anyone thought to bring any fresh ones for me. As you can clearly see, no one bothered to comb my hair.

Then my Uncle Mahonri had the nerve to produce a camera and tell me to smile. I did not yet know about the significance of extending one's middle finger to indicate disgust with a person. "The look" was the best I could come up with on a moment's notice. It has been preserved for prosperity.

My dad's family loves/hates/loves to hate the picture because they say that's the way I looked every waking moment of my childhood. I'd tend to concur if they would stipulate that was the way I looked every waking moment of my childhood in which I was denied food, given stained and ill-fitting clothing to wear, neither had my hair combed nor was even handed a brush and told to do the best I could with it myself, wasn't provided with clean underwear, and was separated by hundreds of miles from my very sick mother while being left in the care of relatives I didn't know well who clearly could not have cared much less for me than they did.

Every member of my mother's family, including the in-laws, which would include my father, absolutely detests my Uncle Mahonri. My Uncle Ralph, when he first saw the photo many years after it was taken, summed things up by saying that the look I was giving Uncle Mahonri in the picture so clearly represented how our entire branch of the family felt about him, and that if I'd had the knowledge of such things, I most certainly would have flipped him off.

A few years ago, my Uncle Steve was shopping for a Mother's Day card (for his wife, not for his mother; she hates him so much that if he sent her a card, she'd probably rip it into shreds, put it into another envelope, and sand it back to him) when he came across a card bearing that very photo. He bought it, brought it to my home, and asked my parents if they thought it was I. They apparently debated the topic for awhile before I came downstairs. When they showed it to me, I told them exactly where, when, and under what circumstances the photo was taken, and by whom.

The "when" is relatively apparent; just over a month after the photo was taken I became very sick because Uncle Mahonri's twenty-three-year-old sister, who was being paid very generously to babysit us while my mom was in the hospital in Los Angeles, was not feeding my brother or me. Matthew had a healthy enough appetite that he scrounged around until he found semi-nutritious things to eat, or else went begging to the neighbors' homes for food. I first tried to sustain myself on candy alone, but after a week or so, even candy ceased to have any appeal, so I basically stopped eating. One morning at school, I fell asleep at my desk, and my first grade teacher could not wake me. The ambulance was called, and Uncle Mahonri's sister was fired as babysitter. In any event, that picture my Uncle Mahonri took was probably the last picture of me showing a remotely full face. My face has been very thin since that time.

My mom and dad and Uncle Steve amd Aunt Heather debated the legality of selling a child's image to a greeting card company without a release, much less an offer of compensation. They agreed that none of them really knew anything about the law concerning such things. My mom did say something to Mahonri to the effect of,"We saw the picture of Alexis on a greeting card.
We would have been more than happy to sign any release and wouldn't have asked for any money, but it would have been nice if you had at least offered us a copy of the picture." It all went over Mahonri's head. He's been stealing toilet paper and toothpaste and all sorts of things for decades. Why would he think twice about stealing someone's image?

The picture exists whether I want to pretend it does or not. My attitude is the same as Uncle Ralph's. I AM giving them a look that implies "$%&# yourself. you mother$%&#ers!" If they're willing to publicize a photo showing how lax are their standards in the physical care of a child, what more proof would the court ever need in a case against any of them?

Besides, even though it reminds me that, at that particular moment in time I was very sad, it really is a funny picture, and it is cute. There was nothing they could do to me that would make me not cute. That is a victory in itself.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, it IS cute. However, it is an image of a child who is clearly thinking: "I know WHO you are and I know WHAT you are. Someday. I'll make you suffer for what you have done!"

    I hope you are doing just that, Alexis!