Today my grandmother would have been 112. I have been thinking about her a lot lately, as I contemplate how to tell her story -- whether I should or not -- what I know and don't know -- what is her story...
There are lots of questions and very few answers.
Questions like ... who did she cut out of this picture? It is just like my grandmother to have this picture with someone cut out. She was the kind of person who could cut people out of her life. It surprises me to admit this while at the same time I know it to be true. I remember her as harsh, judgemental, not wishy washy at all.
But in this picture, sometime in the 1920s, I think, sometime before she married my grandfather or had my father, she is young and her face tells very little. Inscrutable, that is another way to understand her stoicism which I often read as harsh. Maybe she was feeling super vulnerable all the time.
I just can't always reckon how someone who had lost two parents by the time she was 9, or two siblings by the time she was 30 could have then turned around and cut out her only living sister.
But, of course, I don't know her story, not really.
I know bits and pieces.
Snapshots, like these photos that reveal so little and so much at the same time.
What to make of the starch and the serious face ... everyone else here seems to be having a good time. [click on pic to see the whole thing... maybe it is only the men who are yucking it up.] Did she not smile because the person behind the camera tried to get her to smile? Who was behind the camera??
In another from the same day, she has that half smile that I remember from real life. It was bemused and amused and slightly annoyed and maybe holding something back all at the same time.
But she looked smart in that hat. Maybe that is why she needed to give the serious pose.
What about this one with my aunts. She is almost smiling here -- at least her eyes are smiling. Was my grandfather behind the camera this time? Was she about to break out in the big smile or was this as big as it got, emotions slipping out of the eyes even though the mouth holds the smile back.
And the hand gently holding her oldest daughter's hand ... not her youngest daughter's hand.
Maybe that says more about my aunts than it does about my grandmother, but is says something.
Happy birthday, Grandma.
Hope you don't mind me teasing out some meaning from these photos and your life.