I know, it’s a topic I’ve probably worn out on you readers, but a family’s story is a sort of real-life novel, forever interesting to me. Tonight we had dinner with my little mammaw Rasberry, my last living grandparent, the rock of our family. Ben asked her if she had any old pictures of my grandfather (sadly, Ben never got to meet him). She laughed a little and smiled and said “Tons. What kind of pictures do you want?”
We followed her to her bedroom and she pulled out 3 size 5 shoeboxes from a hope chest that were full of our family’s history. Inside we found pictures of people that Ben had never met but immediately recognized from the stories he’s heard, people that I have hazy childhood memories of, pictures of mammaw and pappaw on vacation with Annalee’s grandparents, pictures that made me realize my grandmother was not always the soft spoken wisp of a lady she is today.
She was once my age, full of energy and fun, always dressed to the nines in high heels and a figure flattering dress.
What sloppy messes we modern girls must seem to women like my grandmother. I can’t imagine always being so elegant.
There was a time when she was only dating the man that would become the patriarch of our family. He was fun, the center of attention, with the biggest tale, with the funniest joke, respected, tough as nails, and never wrong. No wonder she was in love with him.
Their wedding day, 1946. My grandparents on the left and mammaw’s sister Eleanor on the right. Didn’t she just adore him?
They were married almost a decade before my daddy came along.
And just a couple years later, my uncle Danny came along. Now, honestly — how precious is my daddy holding his baby brother? Pretty dang precious.
Daddy was chubby and sweet, and exactly the kind of little cinder block of a boy I hope we might be fortunate enough to have if we ever have kids. Then, he grew up to become the handsome and intellectual football star, then after Ole Miss one of the first physical therapists in the state of Mississippi. I have to brag, y’all. He’s the best.
And then many years down the road, my grandparents went on vacation with the Odoms and took some photos with a couple of celebrities they ran into:
And a few years later, my uncle Danny took this portrait of pappaw that captures him exactly the way I remember him.
He passed away in 2001 from Lou Gherig’s Disease, but my grandmother, being the tough and graceful woman that she is, carried on and found a solitary kind of happiness in his absence. I can’t imagine how she does it, but she is forever optimistic even on her worst days. There’s a lot of comfort in seeing these old pictures, to know that memories and the people we love, no matter how old or long ago, are never very far away.
Have I mentioned how I love my family?