Fri 5 Aug, 2005 06:36 am
There are a lot of photographs of my mother and her twin sister from their childhood, both the family album type, and newspaper photos--twins who survived birth were somewhat of a novelty then, and ocassionally a newspaper photographer would come snap a picture of them for the human interest side. That was because they looked identical, and my grandmother dressed them alike. But they're not identical twins, they are fraternal twins. The oldest photograph of them was done in a studio in 1921. They are sitting there in the old fashioned pin-up diapers, giving silly baby smiles for the camera. And anyone who has known them for even a short period of time can look at the photo and say that one is June, and that one is Jean. Later, you couldn't tell them apart. Now, more than eighty years later, they look a lot like that photo.
We had a photo of my mother in basic training in 1942--she's in battle gear, with the boots, the steel pot on her head, and she's sitting behind a machine gun, posing as though she were firing it. It's definitely her, you can't miss it, even if you didn't meet her until she was 50 years old. But, still, it's not . . . she's so young. Less than half the age that i am now. She and my father met and married in England in 1944--and he was less than half my age then. He's nearly ninety now.
And there are the photos of the "kids." We were all blond, bleached by the sun, we all had blue eyes. None of us are blond now, only one still has blue eyes. Another black and white photo shows my sister and i standing in a field of clover. In the hot, hot summers, with no air conditioning, past a certain date, the little ones could go "bare foot and bare belly." We ran around all summer wearing nothing but a pair of shorts (except, of course, for "ocassions"). I see myself in that photo, and i see her, and we are the same people we are now, if perhaps less for the experience which has shaped and scarred us. I see people as a continuum, from cradle to grave, the same and never the same.
How do you see your family members? Have you ever lost touch? Are you able to stand aside and see them, and yourself, as strangers to be wondered at?
I believe we are the same mentality, the same loves and hates, from cradle to grave, except where new cognitions are forced into our brains by catastrphies or otherwise. I could meet with my long lost brother, whom I last saw in about 1980, and we would take up where we left off, with no gap in how we relate to one another. More later; I'm at the office keyboard.
Yes. I'm looking at this little framed photograph of my (so young!) parents, then fairly new migrants to Australia. They look quite smart & fashionable
. My mother has newly permed hair & my dad is wearing a pretty spiffy jacket. My dad is holding me (about 3 years old & blonde. Blonde?) I look quite content. Happy & healthy. My sister stands at the front, all gangly limbs, hands on hips & squinting into the sunlight. We're standing outside what must have been the first house we lived in here, soon after leaving the migrant camp. The start of a new life.
Looking at that photograph now, it astounds me that we look like we belong together. My father (the family glue) has been dead for some time. And the rest of us ... <sigh> I guess you could say "estranged". What I see in that photograph is hope.
I think sometimes we wander from ourselves only to return. I've seen pictures of myself that are not "me" from maybe 10 years ago, while pictures that clearly are "me" from 25 years ago. Same goes for my siblings and parents.
My maternal grandmother left my grandfather around the same time my dad started dating my mom. My grandfather was a drunk and quite abusive to my grandfather, so my mom was quite happy to see the separation.
But my grandmother still called him every day, and when she couldn't get a hold of him for three days running, she called my mom and asked her to check on him.
My mom, in turn, asked my dad to go. So, my dad and his brothers went over to the house and pounded on the door. No answer. They could hear the dogs inside so they tried the door.
They found my grandfather inside, dead, and partially eaten by the dogs.
I obviously never met that grandfather, nor have I seen any photographs of him.
I haven't seen this album for years, but as a child there was an old album in the house that showed relative I've never even met, lounging on the beach, playing lawn games, etc.
They are all from between the 1920's and around 1955. I was born in 1958. Most of them are black and white, just a few are color, but in that type of color you can still tell in was from quite a few years back.
People dressed in bathing suits of the 40's, men wearing fedora's, women in hat's and gloves.
A few pictures on unknown dogs that look like Setantas.
So strange, I feel more related to these unknown people, some type of link that I don't feel when I look at pictures taken last week on my digital camera.
I see pictures on my brother Alan, who died at 34, when I was 30. He will always be 34 years old. Actually, the last few years of his life, he was drunk 24 hours a day, so, in all fairness, he will be forever 29 or 30.
Lost touch with my family? No, it was a purposeful journey away from them.
From my earliest memories they were strangers to me, and I was a stranger to them. Wonder at them, oh yes, there was much to wonder at.
Regrets? No, it was the only thing that allowed me to become who I am, who on the whole is someone I like, and definitely respect.
Chai Tea, your story is so much more poignant than mine.
poignant is my middle name....no actually, it's sophie.
I just sent you a pm.