The Grandmothers

It’s the eyes that do it first for me. Then I see the pearls.

She’s not smiling, but I hope she laughed, a lot. I wonder what she found funny, what humor lurked on the long trek from Wisconsin to the homestead in Washington State. How did she make a home there, amidst the loss of two babies and birth of a robust third?

Sepia photographs portray a lot, but they also hide much. Color, prayers, sorrows – none of those really come through. But imagine what a miracle photography wrought! For a sum, the common man or woman could walk away with a likeness of themselves, a gift of memory to those in the future, they who sit in the light, staring at those long-dead faces, yearning to ask, “Who are you?”

In my case, I would ask, “What did you cook? Or better still, what food made your heart sing?”

In memory of my great-grandmother, Mary A. Boalster Purdy, and of my many, many other grandmothers.

Photo credit: C. Bertelsen

© 2016 C. Bertelsen

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