I love the photo of my mother in her formal. It’s such a crazy dress! But what’s most remarkable about that photo is that it could have been taken a few years before her death–she looked so much the same. It’s hard for me to see that she’s a college student when I look at the photo.
I also love the last photo of her sitting next to her niece. Her niece is older than her. How many people are born already an aunt? There is a story about one of her uncles, when in his 50‘s, out on a work run with a co-worker. When he realized they were close to my mom’s, he asked his single and much younger co-worker if he wanted to meet his niece. The co-worker protested that he wasn’t dressed appropriately to meet a girl. The uncle assured him his niece wouldn’t mind. When they went in and met my mother, the co-worker was highly disappointed to discover she was an infant.
My mother was a beautiful baby with big, bouncy curls in her hair. People used to stop her mother in the street and suggest she stop what she was doing and take my mother to hollywood immediately. Supposedly, Grandma didn’t want that kind of life for my mom, but I suspect she really just couldn’t imagine it as a real possibility.
Regardless, my mother was a favorite. An adorable baby surrounded by adults who oohed and awed over her. At least that’s what I imagine her childhood was like.
Her cousin, Carl, was certainly a favorite. I guess it was mutual. The photos of the graduate are him. He looks very happy to have been a favorite of my mother’s.
She loved her relatives, all of them, so much that I could only imagine them treating her like a special pet. The one regret she shared with me when I was old enough for her to start to speak of her regrets was that we lived so far away from extended family.
She described her childhood as though the center of it was a door constantly swinging open as another family member came through. My childhood was very much the nuclear family variety. I tried to imagine a constant parade of aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins marching through the kitchen and found it vaguely disturbing. I guess it’s true that children don’t know what they’re missing.
The first two photos could have been of me when I was younger (if I were dressing for a 50’s party). It reminds me of when I walked out of a back room into the living room of my parents house right after my mother’s wake. One of our visiting family members got a shocked look on her face as I approached and then suddenly, realizing her mistake, said out loud that she’d thought I was my mother. Now, I would be grateful to look like her.