That beautiful young lady pictured above is Carolyn (in 1958 to be exact). Carolyn is my mother’s mother, which of course makes her my grandmother. I never got the chance to know her though, because despite all the treatments she endured, “The Big C” took her life and she was tucked back into the earth. I’ve made peace with that, despite my occasional selfish desire to have her here now.
My mother told me my grandmother held, hugged and kissed me when I was just a wee little baby. Knowing that has always brought me a lot of comfort. I sometimes like to pretend that’s why I turned out much better than a psychologist might have predicted, given my not-so-ideal upbringing; as if she knew what I was going to go through and had transferred all her love into me, creating a force-field of positivity that would trump all the evil that she knew would try to make its way in. My guardian grandmother if you will.
That photo sat around for the entirety of my childhood. In fact, when I look back at all the possessions my mother lugged around from place to place, that photo (and the silver frame it lived in) stands out the most in my memory. I cannot even begin to tell you how many hours I stared into it hoping for, at the very least, a non-muggle moment where she might move or smile or blink at me, but to no avail. What I find interesting though is when I would stare into it, I felt like she was staring back at me. Something always felt familiar, even though I actually have no recollection of her in my life whatsoever.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted this very same photo on Facebook and I got a wave of responses from my friends about how strong our genes are & the eerie resemblance. This really intrigued me because I never once thought I looked anything like her. I always just saw a gorgeous 18-year-old girl posing for her senior year picture who just happened to be my grandmother. But then I started to examine the photo again the way I did when I was a kid, and when I did, I realized this time why she and that photo felt so familiar.
I was seeing myself in her! In her eyes, her smile, even the shape of her face, there I was, staring back at myself. I couldn’t help but think, “How cool is that?!” That I could carry so much of a woman who I didn’t even know and yet we were connected through our physical attributes.
That even through her untimely death, she will still live on through me.