I Honor My Family

One of these things is not like the other



Just when you were convinced that I hate old people, here is a post to prove otherwise.

It’s a post about my favorite kind of old people: my ancestors! Specifically, parents, grandparents, and a few random aunts and uncles.

One day, Dave (yes, THAT Dave) decided it would be cool to fill the big empty spot on our living room wall with photos of relatives from both sides of the family.

And I quite agreed!

So up went my mom’s wedding photo, a picture of Dave’s mom as a young woman in the service, Dave’s parents’ wedding photo. One of my favorites: Dave’s dad holding Baby Dave with a bottle of beer in the foreground (Baby Dave was the seventh boy. I think Dad deserved that beer). Also in attendance: my beloved Aunt Doris and Uncle Jack, my grandpa holding my mom as a baby, and my dad as a freckle-faced kid.

I always enjoy looking at these faces and remembering those who are no longer with us. The picture of my dad’s mother in her younger days: she’s absolutely beautiful. My mom’s mother, whom I never knew, exudes strength and humor. And the tenderness on the face of my dad-in-law.

Well, then my mom’s wedding photo (in the place of honor: upper right-hand corner) lost its backing and started sliding down the wall, so I had to come up with a quick replacement:


Uhh . . . sorry, Mom. What, you don’t remember Uncle Tim? He was at the last reunion. He told you your pink shell top was fabulous and suggested a shorter hemline to make the most of your fantastic legs. He also told Cousin Ruth to “make it work” and slyly whispered behind his cocktail napkin about Aunt Dottie’s cropped pants (you remember how he feels about cropped pants, right?)

Here’s a better look at his photo, to jog your memory:


Remember? Uncle Tim! The one who always dresses impeccably and never seems to have a date for family get-togethers.

But don’t worry, Mom. You have a new place of honor:


You get to sit next to our unmatched Abe Lincoln book-end.

Don’t you look fabulous?!

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56 Responses to “I Honor My Family”

  1. 1 shakespeare

    OMG, your Uncle Tim’s niece, too? That makes us COUSINS!!!

    So glad you honor your family so I don’t have to. Most of mine bring out no good family memories at all. ‘cept my sis, Rocket Scientist!

    Thanks for the laugh!

  2. 2 Grace

    I love the old family photos – but what is this thing with Tim Gunn? Please explain because I cannot understand it.

  3. 3 Stephanie Barr

    Am I the only person on the planet who has no idea who Tim Gunn is (and yes, I checked the link – I don’t get it)?

    Am I so backward and such a loser that all of today’s pop references will leave me staring blankly like a deer in headlights?


    I’m crawling back under my rock now. Nice picks of your family, by the way.

  4. 4 Jenny, Bloggess

    Ha! Love it!

  5. 5 babs - beetle

    Who is the woman under ‘Uncle Tim’ I can see a resemblance to you. Now you’ll tell me she is part of Dave’s family ;)
    I’m sorry, I know you love him, but I think Uncle Tim ruins an otherwise beautiful collection. I find him creepy looking – don’t shout at me, I’m only little ;)

  6. 6 jennyonthespot

    Dude. And doesn’t Uncle Tim always bring the GREATEST hostest gifts to family gatherings?!

  7. 7 Puglette

    your mom deserves the place of honor!

    and two abe lincoln heads would just look odd, maybe you could get a stephen douglas head and they could hold mock debates…and uncle tim could be the moderator! or he could mock their fashion…the possiblities are endless.
    have fun!

  8. 8 Jeff

    Nice. I really like your wall-o-ancestors. I also like the way Uncle Tim respected the whole black and white photo theme by dressing in black and white himself. He definitely knows how to make it work!

  9. 9 Daisy the Curly Cat

    “Carry on! ”

    I wish Tim Gunn would be my uncle. But he might not even like cats.

  10. 10 TheWordWire

    That’s what you call… Making it Work!

  11. 11 Kathryn

    Those photos look lovely, JD.

    But. Um.

    Since no-one else is gonna say it:

    2nd row, bottom photo….needs to be slightly moved south. Get
    right on that, Dave….like, yesterday. The entire WORLD can see these photos now, remember??

    I personally, LIKE the Tim Gunn pic there….it’ll make ppl do a double-take each time they look at the wall. And they’ll keep
    asking you when you’re gonna replace it. It’s a good conversation
    starter. You could keep it going….and going….and going….

  12. 12 kathcom

    God, I am so jealous you got to meet Uncle Tim!

  13. 13 absepa

    Uncle Tim hates cropped pants? Oh noes! I’ve been faux pas-ing and I didn’t even know it. Does this mean I should toss all my capris?

    Your mom’s wedding picture is SO beautiful!! Sigh.

  14. 14 Barb - WillThink4Wine

    Ha! Uncle Tim! :P I must be about the only one who is all about comfort and don’t give a hoot about fashion. The stretchier the wasteband, the better I like it! I also hate shopping and shoes. Just saying.

    Of course, I adore photos, especially old family photos!

  15. 15 Pricilla

    Heh heh. See, in the publicist’s family photos the BABY would be holding the bottle of beer.

    She grew up in an Irish family…..

    She allegedly had beer in her bottle.

    It explains A LOT.

    New people always join families so there must be room for an Uncle Tim. Especially one so well dressed.

  16. 16 JD

    shakespeare: Hey, Cousin Shakespeare! I missed you at the last family picnic! This small gesture of honoring my family is about as much trouble as I’ll go to. Not that I don’t love them and stuff, but we’re all fairly lazy. I wish I had a cool sister, like you and Stephanie do!

    Grace: Tim Gunn. If you’ve never seen him on either of his TV shows (Project Runway and Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style), it’s hard to explain. He’s a fashion guru, and just very charismatic, lovely, kind, generous, intelligent, and . . . WONDERFUL! I can’t explain it any better than that.

    Stephanie Barr: You are NOT backward, nor are you a loser. I consider it a GOOD quality to be ignorant of most pop cultural phenomenons, but Tim Gunn is an exception. As I said to Grace, above, you just have to watch him in action to understand. He is just fantastic. And thank you.

    Jenny, Bloggess: Why, thank you! Tim Gunn—what’s not to love?

    babs – beetle: OK, I can’t be angry about your Tim Gunn comment (he’s really SO dashing and handsome . . . really!) because you think I resemble my grandmother (yes, MY grandmother Zelda, on my mom’s side), who I think is so beautiful. Other people have commented on the resemblance, tho I don’t really see it. But I’m very happy if people think I look even a teeny bit like her.

    jennyonthespot: It’s so true. Always the perfec thing that you never even knew you wanted or needed. He has that sixth sense. Oh, Uncle Tim. I can’t wait for Christmas!

    Puglette: Oh, my goodness! HA! You are quite the little jokester today, aren’t you? There’s a funny story behind that lone book-end that I will share someday. But I like your idea of mock debates and fashion mocking. The possibilities are indeed endless!

    Jeff: NOW you’re getting the whole Uncle Tim vibe! At least you didn’t say he knows how to “make it wonk.”

    Daisy the Curly Cat: Uncle Tim LOVES cats, especially cats with a good fashion sense. I just know the two of you would get along very well. You could model your denim romper, and he could say, “Daisy, that’s a LOT of look!”

    TheWordWire: HA! There you go. I think Uncle Tim would approve. Tho perhaps my mom would not.

    Kathryn: Ugh. I know. But the wall is already such a mess of spackled-over holes. I’m not sure how much Dave really cares about the project now. The wall has always been a good conversation starter, but I imagine it will be even more so now.

    kathcom: Don’t be jealous! Uncle Tim just wants everyone to be happy.

    absepa: Thank you! Mom, I hope you’re reading these comments. I read somewhere that Tim does not approve of the cropped pant. But I wore capris when I met him at BlogHer and he didn’t look at me askance. But then, he wouldn’t.

    Barb – WillThink4Wine: I think Uncle Tim would approve and say, “Carry on!”

    Pricilla: There’s always room for an Uncle Tim, no matter how big the family. And there’s always room for a little beer in the baby’s bottle. Especially if that baby is crying a lot.

  17. 17 Lin

    I LOVE your Uncle Tim! Uh oh, I feel the need to post my photo of us again. Hmmmmm, maybe Sunday.

  18. 18 babs - beetle

    I forgot to say that we have a wall like that too. In our other house we had over 100 photos on one wall, in a square as you have them. It was a very big wall. We’ve thinned them out a bit now and probably only have about 35 now. Well they’re no good stuck in a box somewhere are they?

  19. 19 Karen

    You are putting ideas into my head! I wonder how long it would take my adult children to notice. muwahaha!

  20. 20 Margaret (Nanny Goats)

    You have an unmatched bookend and you decided to match it up with your mother? Don’t you know that Honest Abe also failed to appear at family functions with a date? That Mary Todd character was just a beard.

  21. 21 ann

    I’m so glad you did this so I don’t have to. If I had to look at my mother hanging on the wall every day it just might very well put me over the edge I’m already living close enough as it is

  22. 22 Kathy

    It would be hilarious to have Tim assess Daisy’s wardrobe and fashion sense. He’d probably tell her she’s the only woman who ever successfully made a feather boa work.

    Has everyone overlooked that amazing tidbit about Dave being a seventh son? Seventh? Wowsa!

  23. 23 Kelly

    uncle tim is so fabulous that he deserves a spot on the wall of every home in america!

  24. 24 JD

    Lin: Yes, it’s time. Help me educate all these poor people who have never heard of Uncle Tim. We need to spread the Gunn love!

    babs – beetle: I agree. I’d rather have them on the wall. We don’t have that much space, or I’d put up more. I’d rather look at my family than a bunch of fruit or landscapes.

    Karen: Do it! And when they finally do notice, just be all casual. “That? It’s been there for years.”

    Margaret (Nanny Goats): I KNEW IT! That’s the hidden significance behind our lone book-end. But wait. You’re not calling my mom a beard, are you?

    ann: Uh oh. Do I sense some unresolved issues here? You just need a nice Tim Gunn photo. Tim makes everything all right.

    Kathy: I can see a special episode of “Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style” starring . . . Daisy the Curly Cat! Daisy comes parading out in all her fashions as Tim peers over his glasses to provide an honest critique. How I would love to see that. YES! Dave is #7. Of a total of 7. Go, Dave’s Mom!

    Kelly: I agree! If Uncle Tim isn’t already on your wall, slap up a photo TODAY. Find one online. Cut it out of a magazine. Do whatever you have to do.

  25. 25 Lin

    Ok, JD. I posted, but I gave you full credit as his “niece”. And I don’t care if folks don’t know him–I don’t wanna share my Tim!

  26. 26 Buggys

    Your Uncle Tim really is a busy guy, he gets around!

  27. 27 Jac

    Next time Uncle Tim hits a family Xmas, make sure I’m notified so I’ll actually show up.

  28. 28 dcr

    I have a mini-wall of ancestors.

    You know what’s scary? Just yesterday, I was looking at a page of post-mortem photos and then today I come to your site and discover yesterday you had posted old pictures too. The only commonality is old pictures, but it’s scary nonetheless.

    Don’t know what post-mortem pictures are? Well, let’s say that way back when, you had a relative that passed away. Photography was expensive back then, so it’s not like people were snapping pictures on a daily basis. But, they wanted to remember their loved ones. So, they’d have the deceased propped up for a photo. Sometimes that meant painting their eyelids so it looked like they were really looking at the camera.

    The creepier ones (at least to those of us in this day and age) were the ones where the posed the deceased for a family picture. That’s right, mom, dad, little Katie all gathered ’round late sis Susie and took a family picture. They had poles and clamps and stuff to hold the body upright, and used wires to pose the arms and such.

    Creepy to us, but, back then, I guess it was just the way things were.

  29. 29 JD

    Lin: Oh, I love your pictures of Uncle Tim. And thank you for the “niece” credit, tho you certainly didn’t have to do that. We can share him. Just you and me. And Kathy, from the Junk Drawer.

    Buggys: He does! And he always looks impeccable.

    Jac: So Uncle Tim carries more currency than, say, an Uncle Char or an Uncle Dave, eh? Duly noted.

    dcr: I’ve HEARD of those! Now I have to go look them up. I especially want to see the painted-on eyeballs. CREEEE-PAY!

  30. 30 Patty

    Your mother looks so beautiful in her wedding picture, it’s absolutely lovely. We have a similar ‘wall of ancestors’ but they are more mine than my husband’s–plus there are at least four of my three year old niece overtaking all the ‘great-greats.’

    Speaking of weddings, have we ever seen a J.D. and Dave on their wedding day picture? If yes, pardon, I’m new ’round these parts, if not, maybe I’ve given you an idea for your next blog entry…

  31. 31 Deb on the Rocks

    As Uncle Tim always said, “This worries me.”

  32. 32 Grace

    Sorry – I have seen Tim Gunn on Project Runway and maybe 10 minutes of the other show, and I say once again – I do not understand the attraction LOL

  33. 33 trade show displays guru

    hey JD,
    If I had a autographed picture of Uncle Tim, I’d probably put him up on our wall too. As it is, my wife has a tiny picture of “Uncle Burt” (Bury Reynolds) hanging in the kitchen. It’s not autographed, and I’m not sure how he got there, but he’s now sort of part of the family too….
    ~ Steve

  34. 34 Bingo

    I love your mother’s wedding dress, she looks gorgeous!

  35. 35 Stephanie B

    Hey, I love my sister dearly, but I’m always open for another cool honorary sister (just as I’ve adopted flit). By all means, if you want a cool sister (and somehow confuse such an appelation with myself), I’d be THRILLED.

    I mean, if you can adopt Uncle Gunn…

  36. 36 Lola

    If you really want to see the un-black boxed photo, email me. Lol! Sorry I’m not as creative as you are and I didn’t think to put a snail photo instead of the black box.

    After you, Lin and I meet up, you can put me on your fb.

  37. 37 JD

    Patty: Oh, thank you. She was indeed a beautiful bride. As was I! Well, only in the “all brides are beautiful” sense. I did write about my deep, deep feelings on my own wedding dress and included a photo here. Thank you SO much for asking!

    Deb on the Rocks: Oh, dear. I don’t want to worry Uncle Tim. Maybe I should put my mom’s photo back in its original place. But, dang. Uncle Tim looks so . . . “right” there.

    Grace: OK, I guess I’ll just have to accept that not everyone shares the Tim Gunn love. Sigh. Are you SURE?

    trade show displays guru: Ah, good ol’ Uncle Burt. It wouldn’t by any chance be the infamous Playgirl centerfold picture, would it? That’s the way I like to remember Uncle Burt.

    Bingo: Thank you! She was a bee-yootiful bride, all right.

    Stephanie B.: YAY! I have a sister! A cool, SMART sister who writes books and has an adult job. Thank you! I am honored.

    Lola: I guess I can live without seeing what’s beneath the black box. It can’t be THAT great—the box is rather small, after all.
    I hope we can all meet soon!

  38. 38 Chris@TheSnackHound

    You shouldn’t have told us that was an unmatched Abe Lincoln bookend. You should have said that it was an original artisan bronze bust of Lincoln that had been passed down. We would have been impressed rather than feeling a hole in our hearts, needing to find you a matching Abe, or better yet, a Mary Todd. We’ll get right on that one…

  39. 39 KC

    You got some seriously old photos, there. I’m impressed. I also can’t believe we are all cousins (Uncle Tim is my uncle too). Maybe that’s why he never makes it to Thanksgiving.

  40. 40 Maureen

    Wow, freaky; I have a post waiting to be published on Wednesday about MY ancestors too!

    Love your wall; though I must admit I didn’t know who Tim Gunn was either until you posted about meeting him at Blogher.

    And I think you need matching Washington, Jefferson and Roosevelt to go with your Lincoln.

  41. 41 flit

    you’re not the only one Stephanie – I have no idea who he is either

  42. 42 Patty

    Just wanted to let you know I read the post and loved the picture–but your hair…your long, beautiful hair…shining, gleaming…where was it?!

    Oh, and I think you need to find a matching John Wilkes Booth for your Lincoln bust, just make sure to keep them on different tables.

  43. 43 Jay

    I have no idea who Tim Gunn is! I’m presuming that’s his name after reading some of the comments, otherwise I’d have thought he was really your uncle! LOL!

    Love the wall of ancestors though!

  44. 44 Regan

    Well, I guess it’s a good thing Uncle Tim didn’t end up near the Abe Lincoln book end. Because then he might have critiqued Abe’s fashion mercilessly to no end. And that might have upset Abe.

    I think your mom and Abe Lincoln will be BFFs. :D

  45. 45 prefers her fantasy life

    Wow! I think I saw your Uncle Tim at Blogher. He’s way cool!

  46. 46 Unfinished Rambler

    You really have a thing for this Tim, don’t you? You just can’t stop talking about him, can you?

    Advice: Move on. :)

  47. 47 JD

    Chris@The SnackHound: Oh, I hate that you have holes in your hearts. There IS a partner to this lonely bookend, but that’s a blog post of it’s own.

    KC: Uncle Tim is a busy guy. Maybe that’s why he has no personal life? (sobs)

    Maureen: I agree: we’re deficient in the presidential bookend/bust representation. We’re working on it. The Gospel of Tim Gunn MUST be spread!

    flit: I knew going into this that there would be some Tim Gunn newbies out there. You all MUST find your way to the Gunn. Go toward the light . . . THE LIGHT!

    Patty: Sadly my hair is not highlighted on the wall o’ ancestors. It has its own wall! HA! I’m kidding. But maybe not. I rather like your idea of a John Wilkes Booth bookend. Gotta go check ebay . . .

    Jay: Thank you! Tim Gunn, sadly, is not really my uncle. He’s a fashion consultant and TV personality whom I got to meet at BlogHer (hence the photo). He is charming, wise, intelligent, and handsome. I LOVE HIM!

    Regan: You’re so right. Tim and Abe together? Bad idea. Although I’d like to think that Tim would make allowances for the fact that Abe was a poor, backwoods country boy. Who also happens to be my mom’s BFF.

    prefers her fantasy life: He IS way cool, isn’t he? Yeah, he gets around. BlogHer one day, our family reunion another . . .

    Unfinished Rambler: No, I can’t! Ha. I really didn’t plan on writing about him (since no one seems to know who he is), but then the photo on the wall was just begging for attention. Moving on.

  48. 48 kathcom

    You just got the Superior Scribbler Award from Magick Sandwich. Please stop by to pick it up. I hope you’ll like it!

  49. 49 Becky

    Her dress is truly fierce. Uncle Tim would definitely approve.

  50. 50 Muskrat

    I’ll never forget the frightened look on your face when you had to free your hands briefly at BlogHer and put me in charge of the signed photo of whats-his-name. Priceless.

    The best part is that you didn’t see me shove it down my pants for a few seconds.

  51. 51 JD

    Muskrat: No . . . I saw you do it. And I liked it.

    kathcom: Whee! Thank you! As you see, I’ve accepted and passed it on!

    Becky: Yes, I agree. It may not be as fashion-forward as other wedding dresses, but you cannot deny its fierceness.

  52. 52 phd in yogurtry

    I can hear him at the reunion now,

    “Caterers, Focus!” (Clap! Clap!)

  53. 53 NaTuRaL

    what did i miss?

    oh uncle time, i mean uncle tim. i know he’s on okay no i don’t know what show he’s on. runway something.

    he kind of reminds me of niles crane, from frasier. right? like his suits are so tailored if he sneezed, buttons would go a flyin’. i’m not talking about your uncle though.

    that spot on the wall suits him just fine.

  54. 54 JD

    phd in yogurtry: YES! Ha. Hmm. Sigh. Now I really wish he was my uncle. Those caterers would be so much more compliant.

    NaTuRaL: Yes, I see the Niles Crane comparison. But Uncle Tim is in his own class, obviously. Project Runway is BACK and is it only me, or is Tim Gunn being even MORE “Tim Gunn-ish?” Just me? OK.

  55. 55 David

    I’m still pondering the unmatched Abe Lincoln bookend, and wondering what would be a proper match for it. A John Wilkes Booth bookend, maybe?
    .-= David´s last blog ..The Introvert’s Dilemma =-.

  56. 56 JD

    David: HAR. There’s a story behind the unmatched Abe Lincoln bookend, which I’ll share one of these days, but I love the idea of . . . do you think they even make John Wilkes Booth bookends?


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