Thursday, November 24, 2011

Every Picture Tells (part of) a Story

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Scanning the many hundreds of my dad's negatives has raised many questions in my mind. I was surprised at first, because he and I were close and often talked about his life before I was born. I thought I at least knew the names of most of his cast of characters, but if I did at one point, I've forgotten many of them now. I'm curious about the names, but only slightly. There are other questions, however.....

In the photo above, my mom has her arm around my cousin Barbara Joan. I wrote about Barbara Joan a couple of years ago. She was the only child of my father's sister, Babe. I didn't know Barbara Joan except through pictures, and I've never seen her smile. It seems safe to say she was an unhappy child. In photographs, my mother is often affectionate with her. No doubt she was aware that Barbara Joan's childhood was lacking. It certainly was in my mother's nature to do what she could to make the girl feel loved.

I don't know why I never asked my dad about Barbara Joan. Maybe I did and he finessed it. I know the circumstances of her death at age 20 were rather hush-hush. One thing I do know is that after her daughter died Babe started drinking heavily, and died not long after from cirrhosis of the liver. After my daughter Gillian died, I found myself craving alcohol for the first time in my life. I remembered what happened to Babe, and made a rule for myself: No drinking alone. Since I was alone most of the time, that saved me. Eventually the craving subsided, but I'll always be grateful for my beautiful Aunt Babe's lesson.

My mother's other hand is linked through Barbara Joan's father's arm. I didn't think we liked him, but maybe that came later. Or maybe we're just seeing a manifestation of my mother's kind heart. Questions, questions.....

12 comments:

crystal said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Susan :)

How's your granddaughter doing? The kitties?

Nive photo of your mother - she was very pretty and seems so warm. Strange to look at old pictures and wonder what was going on with the people in them ... forensic photography.

I wernt througha phase of drinking too, after college, I think because I was so lonely. I finally stopped when I met a new boyfriend.

Susan said...

Yes, my mother was warm. And pretty! And artistic, and very funny. According to my dad, she had perfect hand-eye coordination and was an amazing athlete.

My granddaughter is looking forward to returning to college (she commutes) in January. She still has difficulty walking any distance, but she gets around. She's thrilled to be driving again. Thanks for asking.

The kitties are a trip! I recently spent a big chunk of my Amazon points on an uber-scratching post (32" tall, very heavy) in an effort to save some of the wood posts, etc., in this house from Peachy's enthusiastic claws. Her claws seem to grow faster than I can clip them. I've had the post set up for several days, and Pogo and Annie have taken to it nicely. Not our Peachy, however. I need a Cat Whisperer!

Susan said...

PS: The more I look at this picture, the sadder Barbara Joan looks. I think all her pictures looked like this, or close to it, but this one is speaking to me.

crystal said...

Kermit's nails used to get so long, we called her Fu Manchu :) I felt so guilty about keeping the cats inside all the time so I bought scratching stuff too - some cardboard ones that lay on the floor and which they would stand on to scratch, and some cat furniture for the stand up kind of scratching. The cardboard scratchies are cheap but the furniture really can add up.

Glad your granddaughter's getting better :)

Helen said...

I often feel like I need a drink after reading your posts, and I'm not even involved in the stories.

Susan said...

Note to Helen's office mates: Do not mention alcohol in her presence. It sets her off.

Bridgett said...

Sad story. And you're right--so many questions.

Eulalia (Lali) Benejam Cobb said...

Odd to see a sad-looking child, especially in photos. So sweet of your mother to hug her.

Susan said...

You know, I can't remember if my mother was still alive when Barbara Joan died. If so, I'm sure she was deeply affected.

Indigo Bunting said...

Oh, to be reminded of the circumstances of her death. Very, very sad. If only...

(And so glad to hear your granddaughter is getting better!)

Joe Hevesy said...

You know, I think, that years ago I made a choice. I chose to believe in God. Since that day, my ears have been open: "Let him hear who has has ears to hear." Sorry, Susan, I am not sermonizing, just prologuing this thought. Babe was there to send you a message, a message you heard and took to heart. I am very glad to see you did that, mainly for yourself, but also for us, your admiring minions.

Of course, Babe was also there for herself and for others, too. No telling how many lives she touched. The universe is a place built and sustained by countless gazillion relationships, which is true whether or not you believe in God.

Susan said...

Thank you, Josh. I agree. Happy to see you here. I've lost track of a number of blogs I want to be reading. I need to fix that.