Memory and Reflection

I have always taken photographs, always. Food, insects, flowers, a brick wall, a sign, friends, family. Anything that catches my eye that I want to capture and keep to share or remember I shoot. I love box cameras. I love film and working in a darkroom. I love digital. Digital has me hooked for the instant-gratification-do-I-need-to-retake-the-shot factor. I love the immediacy of it but I also love watching the image form on film in a darkroom as well. No matter how into technology I get, I will always crave my analog time.

One of the most wonderful shots that I was blessed to be able to capture was also my saddest. My grandmother, a redhead, was always very independent. Strong, stubborn, mischievously spiteful, I loved her very much and hope that shows in this shot of her.

Memory

As most of you know, I lost my grandmother in April of last year at the age of 103. She was amazing. I miss her and, though I do not dwell on her absence, there isn’t a day that goes by without a thought of her in it. I owe my mother a great debt because she cared for her for the last 12 years of her life; the thought of putting her into a home, or me my mother, is abhorrent. Though I know that I, as an only child, would/will step up and do the same, I cannot see how my mother did it. I am blessed to have been raised but such wonderful, stubborn, strong-willed women and hope to pass that on to my daughter.

If I am able to win the photo contest, though there are so many entries I just did it to share her, I will be using it toward the rest of my cash agreement for college. One of the few memories that my grandmother repeated to me on occasion was of her first grade teacher. That memory astounded me, she was 103 so it would have been in the early 1900s…!!! It was obvious that her teacher had made quite an impression on her and I wished she could have remembered more of it. I started back to college in early April, a few weeks before she passed, so I got to share that with her thankfully. I will be graduating in September with my BFA in Visual Communications, Digital Design, and then plan to go on to complete a Masters in Education.

If you would, being that my freelance work is my mainstay, I can always use help with college loans so drop in and vote for me. If not, that is ok too. Regardless, this is my favorite, and the last, image of my grandmother and I wanted to share it with everyone.

My daughter and I have been thinking a lot about her lately. Our first Christmas without her and then the new year, her absence has made a lot of changes in our lives. With the grief came relief though and a sense of peace. She was well-loved by everyone who knew her and I know that she led a very full life. I can only hope that I am as lucky. Grandma was always worried my daughter wouldn’t remember her. Sadly, in the end, it was the other way around. I think that it was mercy though, for her, that she didn’t have to say goodbye. It was hard enough on the rest of us, selfish as we were, wanting to keep her forever. I think of her often though, fondly, and got the chance to pass her on to my girl for almost 7 years which was tremendous. I won’t let her be forgotten, she is still very much a part of our lives.

Love you grandma.

Moving forward in her memory

My grandmother passed on April 21st, she was 103 years old. Her funeral was this past Friday. It was a long couple of weeks to wait for closure but we are all well.

Logan picked out the perfect little wooden box for me to decorate for my grandmother. I think it was good for him to be able to help in some way. He loved my grandmother very much and has been watching over all of us. The sentence below the clasp reads: made in loving embrace of our fondest remembrances never to be forgotten.

I painted the wood with a pale leaf green acrylic I know she would have loved. Added line work in black Sharpie marker and gold edging around the top of the lid in metallic gold acrylic to give it definition. The centers of the flowers were punched out of vintage poetry and I painted out some of the words. You can read the flowers from left to right.

Flower Poem

“…the hush there made, that should her bliss lay ere it was still, behold her from afar, the world live free, all earthly matters before its flowers, silence now…”

The whole family and some close family friends tucked things inside for her; Mother’s Day cards, letters, photos. I put in all of Ysa’s drawings that she had taped up on grandma’s wall as well as a deck of cards and three poker chips. My grandmother loved to play cards and could still clean you out at 102. The last year it became a little more difficult but she still wore the lime green poker hat we gave her. My mother gave the hat to Logan and he wears it when we play cards to honor her.

The poker chips I put in were from a set that was originally my grandparents’ when I was growing up. They are very old and very cherished; I put in one of each color/point value. They played every Thursday night for years, as long as I could remember, and she taught me how to play. At first, when I was very little, I would sit at her feet and play with extra chips and another deck of cards. As I grew, I went from floor to lap, throwing chips in for her. She was very patience with me and I loved being included. Most children my age would have been in front of the TV in the other room but I have always preferred the company of older people. I love them. I remember my grandfather’s giggle when I would do well. I miss him too, very much.

After the service I asked everyone to write my grandmother a message on a balloon so that we could send them up to her. I wanted to end things on a positive note, to get everyone’s head out of the grave with my grandmother. Ysa had been crying so I got her to help me (partly to distract her) and asked her if she would release them up to grandma. She wanted to do it and the perfect breeze came as if on cue to help her.

All in all it was a good day. It feels weird to say that when you just lost someone, but the sun was shining and most of the family was together. She would have wanted that.

We all went to Antonio’s afterwards for lunch. Outstanding (read unbelievable) food, lots of conversation of our fondest memories and of the future. Mom and I set a place for my grandmother at the head of the table, a bouquet of gorgeous pale pink roses for her.

She was with us, in some small way, I know she was.

Moving forward in her memory

My grandmother passed on April 21st, she was 103 years old. Her funeral was this past Friday. It was a long couple of weeks to wait for closure but we are all well.

Logan picked out the perfect little wooden box for me to decorate for my grandmother. I think it was good for him to be able to help in some way. He loved my grandmother very much and has been watching over all of us. The sentence below the clasp reads: made in loving embrace of our fondest remembrances never to be forgotten.

I painted the wood with a pale leaf green acrylic I know she would have loved. Added line work in black Sharpie marker and gold edging around the top of the lid in metallic gold acrylic to give it definition. The centers of the flowers were punched out of vintage poetry and I painted out some of the words. You can read the flowers from left to right.

Flower Poem

“…the hush there made, that should her bliss lay ere it was still, behold her from afar, the world live free, all earthly matters before its flowers, silence now…”

The whole family and some close family friends tucked things inside for her; Mother’s Day cards, letters, photos. I put in all of Ysa’s drawings that she had taped up on grandma’s wall as well as a deck of cards and three poker chips. My grandmother loved to play cards and could still clean you out at 102. The last year it became a little more difficult but she still wore the lime green poker hat we gave her. My mother gave the hat to Logan and he wears it when we play cards to honor her.

The poker chips I put in were from a set that was originally my grandparents’ when I was growing up. They are very old and very cherished; I put in one of each color/point value. They played every Thursday night for years, as long as I could remember, and she taught me how to play. At first, when I was very little, I would sit at her feet and play with extra chips and another deck of cards. As I grew, I went from floor to lap, throwing chips in for her. She was very patience with me and I loved being included. Most children my age would have been in front of the TV in the other room but I have always preferred the company of older people. I love them. I remember my grandfather’s giggle when I would do well. I miss him too, very much.

After the service I asked everyone to write my grandmother a message on a balloon so that we could send them up to her. I wanted to end things on a positive note, to get everyone’s head out of the grave with my grandmother. Ysa had been crying so I got her to help me (partly to distract her) and asked her if she would release them up to grandma. She wanted to do it and the perfect breeze came as if on cue to help her.

All in all it was a good day. It feels weird to say that when you just lost someone, but the sun was shining and most of the family was together. She would have wanted that.

We all went to Antonio’s afterwards for lunch. Outstanding (read unbelievable) food, lots of conversation of our fondest memories and of the future. Mom and I set a place for my grandmother at the head of the table, a bouquet of gorgeous pale pink roses for her.

She was with us, in some small way, I know she was.

Jingle Bells…Jingle Bells…

Our new home smells of pine and cranberry. The weather is chilly outside and wonderful. Christmas decorations are strung, lovingly, all over the house. Candles are on the mantle and the cards are hanging from a braided string under the wreath over our entertainment center.

It’s Christmas and Ysa has been helping me wrap the presents waiting in a basket at the foot of the tree. Plans are being made over hot cocoa for Val and I to attend mass on Christmas Eve and to make sure we remember to leave out milk and cookies for Santa.

This will be the first year Ysa has had a real Christmas tree, that she will remember anyway. We had one the first year we had her and after that we spent our holidays away in the mountains somewhere. Tucked away in North Carolina or up visiting Logan’s family in Kentucky. Though we are all dying to go mining in Franklin at Jackson Hole Mining Company again, we are also thankful to be home in our new place.

Oh…and the tree’s name is Reginald according to local sources. hehe I must be part Druid though; I can’t help but want to hug him, thank him for being here (not that he had a choice) and tell him good morning every day. Ysa thinks it’s a hoot and joins in. I think it comes from reading Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” a lot.

So, with all this in mind, we…Ria, Ysa, Val, Logan…oh, and Reginald…would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a very Blessed Yule. Ok, now back to the book project and the last of the decorations! hehe

Namaste…