Thursday, September 23, 2010

farewell, Nana

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that a few weeks ago my grandmother died. It was not a shock (she had just turned 88, and she was ill) but it was a surprise (she had just had a good birthday and seemed to have at least a few months left). What was a shock was that I found out from a facebook update. Yes, really. My brother saw a family member's update, and called me up to find out what was going on. I had no idea! We didn't think anyone would post that if it wasn't true....but we also didn't think it would be on facebook before anyone called us. But it was.

The lesson to be learned here: if you have a rather large family and you are working through the tree to let everyone know, ask everyone to keep their mouths shut until everyone can be notified. (Really, can you not wait a few hours to update your facebook friends?) Or, if you know who has the itchy fingers, tell them last. It was so surreal, we got....a bit giddy, I guess. Hysterical, even. We were just like "this can't really be happening! what's next, video wills on YouTube for the whole world to see?" (Actually, I bet someone's done that by now.)

That was the bad. The good? She died peacefully, before she became very ill, and she'd just had a very good birthday. Emily and I made her a photocard - Emily spelled out "Happy Birthday Nana" with her old fridge letters and posed in front of her message -- and we know that she saw it and that it made her happy. I think it made Emily very happy to know she'd connected with her Nana (who she had met, but doesn't remember) and I know it made me happy, too.

Photos I have never seen in my life began surfacing before the funeral, and it was truly bittersweet to see them. On the one hand, every new batch of photos was so wonderful to see. On the was like this door was swinging open for one quick second to give me a peek at a person that it's too late to know. I mean, I knew my grandmother of course...but why was this all like, a secret history? Families are so weird. In any case, here are two of my favorites:

The 1940s My Space shot - it's not a good photo, but I love it anyway!
1940s myspace

And this one, from before she met my grandfather. She's on the left, no idea who that is on the right. She must be very young here.
Mom 009.JPG



  1. Condolences on your loss.
    The pic of your Grandma with her Brownie camera is wonderful! My fave of my own grandma caught her in some sort of double exposure, working at the family tavern, pulling a beer. Crappy quality, but soooo grandma.

  2. Thank you.
    Isn't it funny how some of the best photos are the worst quality? I save a lot of terrible digital shots because I know how much I love some of my old family photos that are technically terrible. Sometimes the photo just captures something no good photo can.

  3. I'm so sorry Sarah. May she live on in your memories.

  4. Ach, my condolences.
    I wonder if these things will be easier on Emily's generation. It seems like a weird way to hear the news. But did it seem weird back in the Twenties or Teens to get such news over the phone instead of in person? I wonder. I'm old enough to remember a time when breaking up with someone via email was considered heartless, as opposed to just kind of tacky.
    The shot with the Brownie is my favorite.
    It tickles me that shooting yourself in a mirror is something evert generation has done since the invention of consumer photography, evidently. I wonder why she shot this one. Was this an unusually fancy dress for her, and she wanted a keepsake of it?
    She was all alone in the room. This is probably one of the most natural and relaxed expressions possible. She didn't have to put on a show for anybody. She's looking at her reflection, not at the camera.
    Some of my most cherished personal family photos are the random few shots I took of wherever I happened to be in the house when I needed to blow through the last couple of shots on the roll. You never think to document "This is what our living room looked like when there wasn't any kind of a party or anything special happening. Just a basic Monday afternoon after school."
    Funny what becomes valuable to you after a couple of dozen years.


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