the picture

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I love that old picture. My dad carries my little sister on his shoulders. He holds my hand. The three of us are standing in front of the skeleton of framing that was to be our new house amid a blanket of snow. It was our new start. A fresh start.

Dad is wearing his Sorel snow boots. They were one of many sets he’s always worn until he wears through the lining and they become shells of blotched leather.

My dad’s beard is full. He looks young and strong with a head of brown hair tamed with a hat. His biceps, which he had nicknames for, both built that house and wrestled us to the ground in giggles at night. He always gave those muscles a dramatic introduction before snatching us up. “This is Thunder!” he announced over our squeals, flexing his left arm. “And Lightening!”

It was a different time. A time of heartache and laughter and confusion and little joys. I don’t remember much, but I remember his strength. I remember feeling safe because no one in the world was stronger than him. We used outhouses and bathed in the lake. We started fires in a small wood stove in the bus we lived in while he built the house. He pulled us around town by a yellow rope tied to an orange sled.

The picture doesn’t tell the whole story. But it tells enough. It is a picture of perseverance. It is evidence of our determination. It shows love.

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