The other night, I opened up a bottle of red wine, fired up Photoshop, edited for a few minutes and saved a collage picture of my parents’ house in Bosnia next to a shed my father built in Texas. This story begins in 1984, or thereabouts. My dad built our house from scratch, on a teacher’s salary- he and mother designed the blueprints, paid structural engineers to edit and certify them, and then had the house constructed over the years.
Then, before the house was completed, the war broke out. In 1992 our part of Bosnia was overrun by Serb paramilitary forces. Many people died, and many more suffered. A small footnote in that reality is that our house was destroyed: hit by tank shells and later set on fire while we made our separate ways to concentration camps.
Skipping the war parts and our collective exodus, nearly 20 years later, my father built a shed in his back yard, in Texas, modeled after our original home. It’s been some years since I’ve visited mom and dad, so I only learned of the shed via facebook after my brother posted a set of photos.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I didn’t know how to respond to the shed. But, I posted it on reddit, By morning, the picture had hit the front page of their /pics/ section and nearly two hundred people voiced their responses to the picture. It’s amazing how a person can be oblivious to something immediately in front of them.
It took strangers from the internet to put the right caption behind that picture. By now, server stats show that a quarter million people had viewed the picture.
Collective caption of this picture highlights my dad’s strength and pride in commemorating a difficult time in his life. And the internet is right: he is a strong man, having expressed a desire to see the home he built with his own hands.