This is a very emotional Show & Tell for me. This first picture is of my paternal grandmother taken in 1950 - the year before her youngest child and daughter was born. Growing up, my siblings and I spent more time with our father's side of the family than our mother's. This was more due to circumstances in which my mother was brought up, location and finances than really anything else - as we are fairly close to our extended family on both sides. My father's side however, we saw frequently - they often visited us where we lived or we lived in the same area. My dad's mom was divorced when my father was 3 - she ended up being sole provider for her 3 small children and her mother moved in with them to tend children while my grandmother worked as a hairdresser. She met and married a widower with a son of his own and eventually they had a child together shortly after this picture was taken. Aside from spending more time with my paternal grandmother, I feel a bit of a bond with her as she outlived both of her daughters and knew too well what losing a child was like. My first semester at college she called me frequently - probably guessing I was homesick and feeling lonely. I loved her for that - she always seemed to know the day I needed to hear a friendly voice the most and the phone would ring and it would be her voice on the other end. My sister and I spent two weeks with her and my dad's stepfather the year before she passed away. My only regret was not playing more Cribbage with her, and I envy my sister all the games she played with her that I did not during that visit. I married the year after her death and began ttc shortly after that. When I began having my miscarriages I began missing her even more - I would have felt comforted hearing her voice on the other end of the phone again.
This next picture is my Aunt Mary Jane and my grandmother's youngest. I think she's beautiful. She usurped my father's place as the baby in the family when he was just entering into his teen years and he adored her anyway. I have only a very few, very fuzzy memories of her as she died when I was a toddler. She took her own life at the age of 19 in 1970 and left behind a wake of devastation that has echoed through the decades ever since. When I was entering my teen years - probably about the same age that my father was when she was born - I began addressing all my diary entries "Dear M.J." As kids, we spent so much time with my other Aunt and Uncle. We loved it when either would come to visit - our Uncle Wayne always popping in unexpectedly, a whirlwind of craziness and fun. For a while we lived in the same city with our Aunt Julie and spent holidays at her home with our cousins - Sledding down the alley behind their house or sleeping on the basement floor in anticipation of Christmas morn. When I named my diary M.J. it was because I missed the spot that I knew my Aunt Mary Jane would have had in our lives. We spent so much time with my dad's family that it seemed only natural that she would have been there too. This was my solution to missing her - so I wrote to her in my journal, telling her all the things I would have wanted to tell her if she were there. In honesty, I don't know entirely why at that time I felt so drawn to her - I guess I just really needed her then.
This is my Aunt Julie. She and I are named for the same lady - her grandmother, my great-grandmother - her mother's mother. She was so vibrant and irrepressible - intelligent and witty. My youngest daughter reminds me so much of her and it brings me joy as I miss my Aunt Julie considerably. As kids - she was our greatest ally. She was tough - but she loved us fiercely and had a way of making you feel like you were her very favorite. This picture was taken not long before she passed away in 1986 at the age of 50. She went in for a hysterectomy and due to a hospital error, was overdosed on Demerol and never came home. My cousin (her only daughter of three children) had just gotten married a couple months before. She never saw her grandchildren. The following year I graduated from high school and that fall my father had brain surgery. I chauffeured my mom and grandmother around while my father was in the hospital. My grandmother had just lost her second daughter and terrified of outliving another child - my mom was a bit of a wreck as well, and I was the glue trying to keep us all together. Those were difficult times; though I hail from sturdy stock - survivors. And yes, now having a date for my own hysterectomy given that is how I lost my Aunt Julie, is a little unsettling.
My father is the last living member of his family - his mother, father and all his siblings have passed away. He is a survivor too. As survivors we have an important role - keeping the memories alive.
For more Show & Tell - see here.