A Picture Worth a Thousand Memories

My Dad has been wrangling cancer for over 15 years – it considers him some sort of proving ground I guess. Prostate. Malignant Melanoma. Bladder. Adrenal. Pancreatic. It appears that he may be winding down, and I am curious at how certain events in my life relative to him are showing up on my radar.

When I was a (miserable, lonely, depressed) senior in high school, I created a massive collage from floor to ceiling on one of my bedroom walls. One side was mostly surfing stuff and the other was the wall of my discontent – vietnam war protests, politics, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and in the mix a cut out of the photo above from Life Magazine. I didn’t dare post the anger I felt at my family.

When I went away to college, my father sent me a gift, and it was an enlarged print from the original photo. This quite astounded me – as it meant a considerable amount of tracking and cajoling to accomplish this task. At that time he had friends in high places, so perhaps not as as hard as I might imagine it to be – but really – it was the thought that counts. I was quite rebellious which made it hard to be gracious. I think I was cool and reserved, much like he and my mother were in my memory of my younger years. We battled frequently, and I was not about to let this gift be my undoing.

Most times when I would really stop and gaze at it, I would simply sit and cry. I figured these limestone cliffs in Turkey could hold plenty of tears.

That he somehow waded through this 8 by 12 foot wall of anger, depression, idealism, and surf fantasy to find that one image that really captured the isolation I felt – that is what struck me.

I kept it for a long time, moving it with me from place to place, and finally gave it away to one of my similarly young and disaffected employees years ago. I felt a tinge of guilt letting it go, but then again I was going through one of my many periods of not being on speaking terms with him. So there.

I hope to ask him about this photo. When I asked him initially, I recall him brushing it off with a Dad-type platitude: “Your father understands you much more than you realize.” Surely there was more to his thought process though. I wonder if he remembers. It was 38 years ago, more or less.

You can see the full size photo at the LIFE Magazine archives on Google. I think they printed it flipped horizontally?

About Roxanne

I use a specialized form of coaching to help people be more of who they are and less of who they're not. I lived in Hawaii for 17 years and now reside in Santa Fe, NM. I work with clients around the world. I invite you to join my "Get Blissed" email list for updates.


  1. Lisa Leever says

    I had to choke back the tears at my own personal saga with my mom. The picture is profound. Love & Tears, Lisa