A Window to the Past

A father sitting next to a kiddie pool while his two sons splash in the water.

Donald E. Geary and sons

The first time I heard Kevin Morby’s This is a Photograph on the radio, I immediately thought of this photograph.  Dad sitting by a kiddie pool, smiling into the camera while my brother and I splash around in few inches of water on a hot August day. My mother behind the camera.


This is a photograph, a window to the past

Of your father on the front lawn, with no shirt on

Ready to take the world on, beneath the West Texas sun

The year that you were born, the year that you are now

His wife behind the camera, his daughter and his baby boy

Got a glimmer in his eye, seems to say, “This is what I’ll miss after I die

And this is what i’ll miss about being alive

My body, my girls, my boy, the sun”


Unlike the  father in Morby’s song, my dad has a shirt on,  beneath a West Pennsylvania sun, with his sons. Despite the differences, the sentiment is the same.


Henrietta Allen, Hannibal Missouri

In the second verse, Morby sings;


And this is a photograph, a window to the past

Of your mother in a skirt, in the cool Kentucky dirt

Laughing in the garden, back where it all started

With a smile on her face, everything in its place

Got a glimmer in her eye, seems to say, “This is what I’ll miss about being alive

And this is what I’ll miss after I die”


My version is of  my mother holding a black cat, in the cool  Missouri dirt, in front of the house she grew up in.


I’m fortunate to have these photos of my parents from so long ago. Although they are only two dimensional pieces of coated paper, they truly are windows to the past.


I  wonder if this generation, who’s family photos only exist on hard drives and ever changing storage media, will still exist in the decades to come.  As in the first line of the chorus,  Time’s the undefeated, the heavyweight champ. We should make more prints.


If you live near Philadelphia you can catch Kevin Morby at The Ardmore  Music Hall  on October 25th 2022


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