This is a photo of my grandmother. It’s always made me a feel bit sad. She died when my mother was 9. In the late 1940’s. I think this photo was taken in the 40’s. I know she died of TB, so I guess she was ill for some time. During my childhood she was never mentioned and there were no photos on display. I know my mother didn’t go to the funeral and she was sent to school as normal. I know my grandmother died around Christmas because my mother doesn’t like Christmas. I know my grandmother loved the song Danny boy.
This photo and a couple of others of her were amongst some photos my granddad gave me. I remember him showing me the photos of my grandmother and I remember showing these photos to my mother at the time.
I have this on my wall at home with lots of family photos, it’s been there for about 8 years. Sometime ago, my mother, without explanation, gave up driving. She’s never been a confident driver and it made sense for my parents to run only one car. Soon after she came to visit. We were drinking tea and she was looking at the display of photos and she pointed to this photo and asked; “Who’s that a photo of?” It was one of those moments when you pause and swallow. I had to think for a moment before responding. I lightly replied “It’s your mother” she sort of laughed and agreed, but not in a convincing way. It lingered in my mind. Something wasn’t right. She’s never been the easiest person but this was different.
That something wasn’t quite right became more a frequent occurrence and this year she’s been diagnosed with Alzheimers disease. In retrospect that moment with the photograph was enormously significant, it just took me a while to realise. As I said it’s a sad photograph.