An old Black and White photograph


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.


  1. Tara

    That is so so sad. But at least you now know and can deal with it. Amazing how that moment in time can change things.
    Thanks for joining in, that’s a really gorgeous photo. x

  2. Jenny paulin

    Oh what an amazing post! So much lies behind that one photograph. I don’t know what else to say, but of allmthe entires i have read today yours had the ending i was least expecting. I hope you and your mum are managing well with her illness xx

  3. mummyrella

    Gemma, A sad photography but it has also brought light – if you think what might have been, how long might it have taken for your mother to be diagnosed. I like to think/believe in Fate and maybe your grandmother was helping in some way to show you the unknown and to help you realise it. I too love old photos and they do have so much meaning to them, something tangible that we can hold on to. Lets hope people, family and friends feel the same about ours in years to come!

  4. Meltdownmum

    What a poignant story. So many hidden moments can be brought to life by capturing a small moment in time. Your grandmother looks carefree, very attractive. I wonder if your grandmother was helping your mum in some way by testing her memory. Sorry to hear of the alzheimers diagnosis, but glad you caught it early. I’m sure it’s not easy… Thanks for sharing that photo.

  5. SeaThreePeeO

    Goodness, such sadness attached to such a beautiful photograph. I wish you luck in the future with dealing with your mother’s illness. It has already robbed my grandmother of her dearest memories and plays awful tricks on her. The other day she forgot my grandfather had died four years ago and was desperately trying to find him.

  6. Penny

    It’s amazing how much one image can hold isn’t it? You are so right about the gallery too. This was beautifully written for something so bitter sweet as you describe. My gran had Alzheimers and my mum’s lost alot of memory to a brain tumour, so your words really struck a chord with me too.

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