This story also came from a prompt generator. This idea was just a “60 year old photograph”. I like how this ended up going. If I do anything more with it, I will expand the grandmother’s role quite a bit and her relationships with her daughter and granddaughter and the whole ‘what actually happened’ part!
My hand dropped and with it the photograph I had been holding fluttered to the floor. It landed face up and I could not stop myself from looking down at it.
Peering back up was a picture of happier times. Happier for someone anyway. It was a wedding photo. It was in black and white with a thick white scalloped border around the edges of its square shape. It was slightly bent, curled, but the image was completely clear.
A man and a woman stood on the broad steps of what was either a church or a courthouse. The woman wore what was obviously a wedding gown, white and lacy, with a broad hat. The man wore a neat dark suit that looked just slightly awkward on him.
There were a handful of people around them, men in suits and women in fancy dresses. Everyone in the picture was smiling, except the bride.
These were my parents and this wedding was sixty years ago. I had never seen any of their wedding photos before which seemed odd now, but I had never thought to ask and my mother had never offered. That was just the way she has always been, living in the present and largely indifferent to the past.
So what was I doing now with this photo?
My grandmother, my mother’s mother, died last week and it has fallen to me to sort through ‘her things’. There are a lot of things. This photo is only the most recent of the ‘interesting things’ I have found.
I never considered my grandmother to be a sentimental person and yet here we are. Boxes of photographs and old movie tickets. Carefully pressed flowers and neatly tied packets of letters. It’s ridiculously stereotypical, like something she took from a book or a film.
On the one hand, it is all neat and tidy, which is exactly how I always thought of her. But the content, that she kept these items, like memories neatly boxed up and put away, is something I am struggling with. Why? Why did she do this? It is both the totality of the collection and the specific items that are bothering me. Like this photo.
My parents. I look at it again and I am wondering about my mother, about her dour expression. Perhaps it was just a moment, a bad shot taken when she wasn’t prepared.
I want to believe that. I don’t want to think that she knew what the years would bring, that she had a premonition on what should have been the happiest of days for her. I can barely look at my father knowing what will come as time moves on.