Family Picture

I need a show of hands from anyone in the audience that has ever taken a family picture.

Please leave your hands in the air if you actually LIKE taking your family picture.

Mr. Contest Chair, fellow toastmasters and friends…

When I was eight years old I hated the family picture. There are few things that are more uncomfortable to an eight year old boy than wearing a suit. It twists and it tugs; it itches and its hot; the sleeves are too long and the pants are too short; it was just miserable. But every summer my mother would load us in the car and drive us across town to the portrait studio for our family picture. When we would arrive the photographer would put us into the proper pose:

Sit down

Stand up

Lean right

Lean left

Turn your shoulders

Tilt your head

Stand on one leg

Spread your arms and…CHEESE

But what was the point of the family picture? I have never known anyone that resembles the family photo on their wall; maybe your family dresses in matching white-linen suits, but mine certainly does not. And my family certainly was never as happy as we looked in that family picture.

My mother’s side of the family photo would have looked like this…

Grandma, grandpa-my aunt, my brother, mom, and me

To be accurate my mother would not have been in the photo because when I was 8 my mother was living and working in Atlanta while my brother and I were being raised in Athens by our grandparents. For an eight year old boy it was confusing and it hurt.  I wanted my mother to be home.  I wanted her to make us a family.  I hoped that she would make us “normal”. But unfortunately that never happen; and that WAS my family picture.

On my fathers side the picture would be a little different and the picture would be more confusing and a lot more crowded. You see there would be my father and then my six half brothers and sisters; behind us there would be the five women that were our mothers. Now there would be one more person needed to make this picture work, a referee. Because once we got these five ladies together there would be guaranteed fisticuffs. Once the dust would settle, the photographer could then get us pose us again, placing my father here, the ladies here, and the children up front. We would look toward the camera and we would smile but my smile would be hiding the hurt inside. My father was not involved with me as a child and that too was confusing and it hurt.  I wanted my father to teach me how to catch, I hoped my father would teach me how to drive, and I wanted and NEEDED was for my dad to teach me how to be a MAN. But unfortunately that never happened, because instead of my father choosing to be a father my father simply chose to be THE MAN. And that WAS my family picture.

I stand before you today a very lucky man. First of all, I am lucky because my wife doesn’t ask me to take family pictures. But I am also lucky in that my life has come full circle in so many ways.

My mother and father never committed to each other, but this August, my wife and I have celebrate 10 years of marriage and I am so lucky that I can say that.

I am also lucky to be the father of an amazing little boy who is celebrating his sixth birthday today. He inspires me and he encourages me and I am so lucky every day that I get to be his Dad.

I am also lucky that I have been able to realize the dreams about my mother and the hopes of my father have all come true and have the one thing that I always wanted, A FAMILY!

At some point in the very near future I am sure we will finally take that family picture.  We will get dressed up and load everyone in the car and drive over to the portrait studio where the photographer will put us through the motions.

Sit down

Stand up

Lean right

Lean left

Turn your shoulders

Tilt your head

Stand on one leg

Arms out

and CHEESE

And at that very moment somewhere deep inside me that eight year old boy is going to smile because he knows that his dreams can and DO come true.  And the only way I know how to honor him is to live my life and frame each and every moment as if it were a family picture.

My wife and I walking down the aisle-click

The birth of my little boy six years ago today-click

Our family sitting at the table to enjoy Sunday dinner-click

And even this moment today is worthy of being captured in time forever.  In memory of that eight year old boy, I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, to please rise and allow me to capture this moment for that little boy.

Turn your shoulders

Tilt your head

And on the count of three

One

Two

Three

Cheese!

Mr. Contest Chair

5 thoughts on “Family Picture”

  1. that you for sharing your script of the speech.

    It shows the great amount of professionalism you have and are continuing to develop with each challenge you face.

  2. Stevie

    You told you story
    You show the audience your story
    You involved the audience’s minds, hearts and souls

    Confucius would be proud of you.

    It was a great 4-dimensional experience.

  3. Wow! I am lucky that I didn’t compete with you at District! My winning District (86) speech was good, but this is spectacular writing! I got teary just reading it, i can imagine your audience on an emotional rollercoaster when you delivered it! Do you hâve this on vidéo?

    I am certain that your region speech this weekend will be even more fantastic. Have fun! 😀

  4. I enjoyed reading this. i finally took time to check some of these out. i was touched by your story/speech/ words.look forward to reading more of your stuff.

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