I have so many favorite photos, mostly old, the new too new to love just yet. The old photos bring me sometimes to a past older than my own, to a moment in time caught and held and perfect in that fraction of an instant. No one knows what will happen a day, week, year later. No one in the photos is thinking past "cheese." There may be fights and tragedy and joys and love; there will be all of those, probably. Plus more than anyone in the photo can imagine. But they don't know that, and as we look, neither do we. There like a piece of art, life stands still for us to view.
In my favorite old photo, my grandmother and her three sisters stand at the side of a house. I think it is my great-grandmother's in Charles City, Iowa, but I don't really know for certain. The four of them--lean and stylish in their 1936 garb--smile for the camera. I only knew them all as middle to older women, my grandmother nearing 48 when I was born. My grandmother Vida, Shirley, Shiela (the German spelling), and Frona (the order in the photo, left to right) were just old. I knew their life stories (Shiela crashed a car while looking at a boy) and knew I was connected to them, but they were never these young women.
And what young women! So stylish and put together. Confident and ready for whatever was going on. And all their lives, they would be connected, even if family squabbles threatened. And now they are all gone, the last of their four husbands dying a few years back.
I think about a photo I have of my sisters, the three of us in my mother's living room. We are all still alive, actually in the moments before my younger sister's wedding shower. Truthfully, we are all pissing each other off something fierce. My middle sister wants to sock me a good one. My youngest sister wants to sock my middle sister. I'm just ready for all the wedding stuff to be over.
And soon, so much would be over. My youngest sister would die in less than four years. My middle sister woudln't speak to me for ten. In a way, I was left in the room all alone.
But in that photo--like the one of my grandmother and great aunts--my sisters and I are all together. For that second, in that flash of light and film, we are sisters.
Causes Jessica Inclan Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org