A little while ago, my cousin posted a photo of our grandmother on Facebook and when I saw it, I was stunned. There, looking back at me was my grandmother with a camera looking so much like me! I wanted that photo, or at the very least a copy of it. She has been on my mind lately and the photo seemed to be her speaking to me from the dust. The last time I saw her was when my mom and I had the good fortune to travel back to Sweden together for my cousin's wedding in the summer of 1999.
A few days before my mom and I left Sweden we visited Langgarn, a small island that is part of Stockholm's archipelago. My grandmother's family had 3 cabins on the island that have eventually been passed down to my Uncles who live in Sweden. For fun, I was mowing the lawn at the middle cabin with a push mower while my grandmother sat and watched me, but pretty soon it felt like it was more than just watching me. She was memorizing me, absorbing me.
Finally, I stopped, went over to her and sat down beside her and said,
"I know what you're doing."
"You are soaking me in because I'm leaving."
"Yes. You know that there are nine of you over there now."
She was referring to my family of six at the time and my parents and younger brother who all live here, in the United States. I realized then how much time she spent thinking about her family that lived an ocean away.
An hour or so later my mom and I walked down to the dock so my uncle to take us back to the mainland. My grandmother sat in a chair at the top of the pathway leading to the dock with another uncle standing at her side as she watched us walk away. She looked like a grand dame, sitting there watching me go. She was my last living grandparent, the matriarch of my father's side of the family. I am so grateful for such a clear memory of our last visit together. She passed away 3 months later. Our conversation became more poignant knowing it was our last one in this life.
My Aunt was nice enough to send a copy of the photo so here it is:
I love it! And this is also why I love photography. Photos enrich our memories and preserve them for future generations. What a treasure.