My sister complains that my parents stopped taking photographs soon after their only photogenic child was born. She is the youngest of three girls, and though we insist there are plenty of pictures of her in the family album, she is right.
What she doesn’t understand is that it was her destiny, as it is with most third children.
Last night, my oldest son was asking questions about his great-grandparents. He is the only of my children to have met my grandmother Frances, and though he does not remember her, he thinks it is important. He and the middle child knew my husband’s grandmother, who we all called Gram.
I offered to show them a photo album that my mother put together for Christmas six years ago.
I clearly wasn’t thinking.
We all snuggled into my bed and I showed them their ancestors on the first pages of the album, then pictures of my sisters and I growing up, my high school graduation, our wedding, and the first years of their lives. They asked lots of questions and made fun of my braces and 80s hair. They laughed at how their Dad had a goatee when they were born. They remembered certain shirts they used to wear.
Then my third son started to cry.
He wasn’t in the album.
He was born a year after it was given to me.
He realized right then that there was a time when we were all together without him making memories that we saved for history.
Fortunately, I have enough photographs of him to create an entire album, and he is only five. Like my youngest sister, the camera loves him. And like my sister’s, his stories make ours a richer, happier history.
The third child, though they may be late to the party, always leave an impression that no one can forget… even when there are fewer pictures to memorialize it.