when we left my father-in-law's house two weeks ago, we took with us a couple boxes of loose photographs which my husband wanted to "digitize." there were two reasons for that, one is to preserve them as they've been floating about loose in the boxes and getting banged up, and the other is so that he can use them to create a slide show of images of his mother for her up-coming funeral service.
my mother-in-law was already very ill when i met her for the first time. i have never known her to be joyful or exuberant. there have been moments when i catch a glimpse of her wry sense of humour, but they are fleeting and far between. and so, there is an enormous part of her personality that i simply did not know.
i spent the better part of the day going through those boxes... picking out pictures that show her to be funny and playful, loving with her children, a child herself... a traveler, a gardener, a mother, a student, a wife, a girl, a beautiful woman, and finally the tired and depleted woman i knew.
as i went through the photos, i asked my husband about many of them... "i never knew my mother when she was fun," he said. "i've never seen her laugh like that, or play like that"... "i don't remember that..."
i wish i had known her when she laughed so hard she almost fell over with the force of it, grasping at her friend's arm to stay upright. i wish my husband remembered her climbing trees with him and playing on the beach with him when he was small.
it makes me wonder when it was that she became the woman we knew, and why? how did that happen? did she miss her younger self, or was she content to be herself as she aged?