My husband says if it isn’t written down it doesn’t exist

Words, of course, may be open to interpretation.

There are few to represent my family. My paternal grandmother, for example, is a 1950s Better Homes and Garden Cookbook. Coleslaw. A chair in the corner. Sunshine on one side of the street and an approaching rain shower on the other. My mother said she sat herself to death.

Pictures of my grandmother could have been a Life photo essay –  “widow of The Great Depression” with her deep set eyes looking past the camera to what will become her husband’s grave, a baby on her hip and a toddler clutching her skirt. For the record, she is always standing in these photos. This is before she sunk to the level of the chair.

My father might say it was the TB that took her away and took them away from her that bowed her down, my sister the loss of her only daughter’s childhood. Perhaps she learned to practice patience in the sanatorium or penance or prayer and couldn’t stop.


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