This picture cracks me up. If you put your hand over the unpleasant-looking infant, you can imagine that the lady in the yellow dress is smiling up at you from the pages of Town & Country magazine. A spread on Easter in the Country, perhaps. Move your hand, and you stare at the scrawny, unhappy baby. I imagine a spectacular photographic series showing the same two once a year, the lady always brightly smiling, the baby, transforming year-by-year into a child, a teen, an adult, but always with her mouth open and her eyes screwed shut, looking awkward and out of place.
That unhappy baby is me, and the pretty lady is my grandmother, who died last month at age 102. The truth is that she was more down-to-earth and informal than the picture suggests, and I loved to spend time with her once I grew out of that scrawny, colic-y baby stage.
Both my cousin Liz and I spoke at Grandma’s funeral last month. We didn’t coordinate ahead of time, but we both ended up telling stories from our grandparents’ courtship. Grandma was pretty and spunky; Grandpa was shy and good-humored. They loved each other very much and enjoyed a marriage of over 50 years, despite their differences.
It’s hard to know what else to say. Grandma told me several years ago that she didn’t understand why she was still around. Some time after that, she stopped talking, so I don’t know for certain what she was thinking. I hope that she was privately re-living all the many good times she enjoyed over the years, including that first kiss, on the train, between the cars.