My Grandma’s Favorite Photo

7 Jul

Grandma's Favorite photo

This is my Grandma’s favorite photo of herself.  She loved it so much that she took another photo taken the same day and cut her head out to put on an membership card. It caused a major fuss that summer in the Catskills! A fuss that lasted several days!

We (my Mom, sister and I) asked why she had cut up that photo of her at 17 or 18, when she was already in her 60s when she used it.  Her answer:  It was her favorite photo and she wanted to use it!

Grandma Thelma

Here it is!  You can even see the staple holes in the photo where she stapled it on to the membership card!  I am not sure what the card was for.  It was not an official government ID.  It must have been for some local group.  I honestly do not remember. (My sister reminded me that the card was for a local senior center.)

I do remember that my Mom was so angry when she saw that Grandma had used this photo and destroyed the original!   I believe it was also my Mom’s favorite photo of her mother as a young woman.  My Mom and Grandma actually got into a major discussion, read that as argument, over this.  But it was too late, the photo was already destroyed. Grandma had thrown away the pieces.

My Mom never knew, because I guess Grandma never told her, that there were several other photos from the same day upstairs in an album the attic.  Unfortunately they both had died before we found the album that had these photos taken of my Grandma and her first cousin, Katie.

If you look at it carefully, you can see in the image we have, Grandma is not wearing the pearls. I assume that the pearls belong to my Aunt Gussie, Katie’s mom.  In the photo that Grandma truly loved, she is wearing the pearls.  A telling gesture. As an adult, pearls played an important role in my Grandma’s life.  Eventually she had many strands of real pearls!

Grandma favorite photo

I think my Mom would have been much happier if she knew that other photos existed.

I understand why Grandma used this photo.  I do not think she ever felt pretty.  She told me many times that growing up they called her Luchen, or noodle or string bean, because her arms and legs were too long for her body. She hated being called that nick name.

My Grandfather, on an audio tape we have from November 1981, a few months after Grandma died, even said that Grandma was not pretty, but she had something special about her.  And so he fell in love with her.

Grandma was bright, intelligent, spoke, read and wrote in several languages.  I thought she was lovely.

Now as a woman in my 60s, I think I understand why she used this photo.  When I look in the mirror, I do not always see someone my age.  I expect to see a much younger person. Sometimes I am surprised.  Recently I said something about it to my husband.  And his response made me think of this photo, as he said,  “You will never look 25 again.”  Sigh.  That was the age I was when we married.

This photo of Grandma was taken a year or two before she married my Grandfather. Perhaps she felt as I, and was remembering the young Thelma. That is how she saw herself, and so that is the photo she used.

(I am thinking about Grandma now, as her birthday was in July.  We will soon mark what would be her 112 birthday.  Although she is gone, her memory continues as a blessing.)

8 Responses to “My Grandma’s Favorite Photo”

  1. Luanne July 7, 2018 at 3:47 pm #

    So sad that she didn’t feel pretty because she looks lovely, like a dreamer. Interesting story to go with the photos!

    • zicharon July 7, 2018 at 3:52 pm #

      She was a special, intelligent soul.

  2. Amy July 8, 2018 at 8:12 am #

    I also find it sad that she didn’t feel attractive and that her husband agreed. People can be so cruel. And I know that feeling of hating to see yourself in a photograph (or in the mirror). I have always hated having my picture taken and even more so now. But seeing how happy you are to have these photographs makes me realize that someday my grandchildren and their descendants will be happy that I suffered through having pictures taken.

    • zicharon July 8, 2018 at 8:18 am #

      Although he did not think she was pretty, he did say she had something special. Which is true. She was light and bright. I think we all have moments where we feel less than lovely. But photos are so important to keep memories alive.

      • Amy July 8, 2018 at 8:27 am #

        And yet I see her as being as attractive as most women!

      • zicharon July 8, 2018 at 8:30 am #

        To me she was beautiful! But I see why she loved this photo.

  3. speak766 July 8, 2018 at 10:03 am #

    That’s really sad she couldn’t see her own beauty. I guess it’s something a lot of women struggle with. But this is such a lovely tribute to your grandmother. Thank you for sharing this with the world. Wish you the best – speak766

    • zicharon July 8, 2018 at 10:08 am #

      Thank you. As I said, we thought she was lovely!

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