• Shae Bryant

The Ending to "The Tin Photo" That Never Happened


I've had a few people tell me they didn't like the ending to "The Tin Photo." It wasn't this fairy tale fiction ending where everyone lived happily ever after. For most, it was a bitter-sweet ending that caused a little bit of shifting around in their chair. I'll admit, even I thought to change the ending at one point.


The Tin Photo could have ended with Connie. Diane and their children finding their family. A grand reunion would have followed, where everyone discovered how similar they were. The book would end with the family sitting together for a meal, reminiscing about the people who brought them together.


Sure, it's a great ending. It also never happened. So much of The Tin Photo actually happened, from the uncomfortable depictions of abuse to the arranged marriage(s). The ending is the true story. I didn't have to fictionalize much of it at all.


The only part that I changed was my Mother on the phone with my Great Aunt at the same time I was messaging another Great Aunt. I did have the conversation with my Great Aunt as depicted in the book, I'm not sure if my Mother ever called her Aunt during our search. The rest? It was true.


If you are like me and you research genealogy as a hobby, you will see countless stories of endings you didn't expect. So many people search for missing family members, only to find people who want nothing to do with them. Or, they never find anything at all. Others find families who welcome them with open arms. Some find families who speak for awhile and then lose touch. It's a total roll of the dice, and it's one that I took long before I wrote The Tin Photo.


Our ending was somewhere in-between everything - and that's normal when it comes to this sort of search. That chapter in our lives has been closed, and a new chapter has begun with the knowledge we gained. I didn't want to give the book a happily ever after ending despite the fact it would make everyone feel good. I stuck with my gut and mirrored the real-life resolution of this generations long family secret. I'm happy that I did.