a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
"I can't see why I miss you so" 
30 August 2015 03:05 - "I can't see why I miss you so"
rosefox: Me staring off into the sunset. (wistful)
I felt fidgety tonight, so I sat down and scanned in FutureKid's sonograms. Then, since I had the scanner set up, I scanned some old photos from my mother's side of the family. I never quite noticed before, but most of the photos of my grandmother from the 1980s (the last decade of her life) show her with an expression that I can only characterize, in the modern idiom, as "no fucks to give". I guess I take after her. :)

The photos were in one of the two storage bins I brought home from a recent trip to the house of a friend who's been holding on to a lot of my mom's things, since she doesn't have space for them. I had no idea what was in the bins; they were just labeled "Rose". Turns out they contain heaps of photos, my baby book, my birth certificate (not the original but a certified copy), an autobiography I wrote when I was 10 (screamingly hilarious), more photos, copies of the book in which my first published story appeared, a blank notebook that my mother and I doodled in when I was maybe two years old, a comic strip I drew in first grade, a binder of photos of my grandparents' house, even more photos... I only managed to get the binder and a handful of the other pics scanned in. It's time-consuming. I scan as PDFs so I can leave notes on the image with info about the print photo, like a good archivist.

Favorite photo: my grandparents at their 50th wedding anniversary in June 1989.


Scene: a garden party under a large tent. An elegant gentleman in a black bowler hat, fawn jacket, and red bow tie stands next to an elegant lady wearing a large white hat, diamond earrings, and a dress with swirls of color. She's holding a Champagne flute. His bow tie matches her dress. He's looking at her like she's his entire world. She's looking at the camera with an air of pure smugness.

At the time this photo was taken, my grandmother had metastatic breast cancer. You can't tell even the slightest bit from looking at the picture; they both look like they're having a purely wonderful time. She died eight months later. When I say I was raised to have New England backbone, that's what I mean: sure, you/your spouse of half a century may be dying, but you'll still look fantastic and throw an amazing party.

Obviously there is a fair amount of melancholy in this undertaking. I miss my grandparents a lot. But it's good to see these pictures of them--not just event photos, but random candid snapshots. It's also good to be reminded that everyone in the family starts out a bit goofy-looking (except my grandfather, who was Cary Grant handsome from day one) but then ages extremely well.

Another part of the melancholy is getting used to the idea of having a kid who won't have my genes. They won't look at photos of the two of us, or of my relatives, and see the family resemblance, or be reassured that they'll outgrow their coltishness. But at the same time I'm glad to be archiving this history for them, because my family will be their family, related by blood or not.

The painstakingly handwritten autobiography offered some welcome comic relief. Favorite quote:

"When I was 4 years old, I had chestnut hair, in a bowl cut, blue eyes, and a lopsided smile. I also had--brace yourself--buck teeth. Can you believe it--an angel with buck teeth?! Now, I have the same hair, only long and a bit wavy, the same eyes, and my smile isn't so lopsided. And--brace yourself--a retainer. And glasses. Even worse!"

(There were double underlines on the underlined parts. Most of the text was in my extremely careful cursive with the "brace yourself" printed. I don't think the "brace yourself"/retainer pun was intentional, mostly because if it were I would have drawn arrows pointing to it and written "ha ha!" or something. I did not trust adults to get my jokes.)

When I got to the "angel" part I actually had to put the book down because I was laughing too hard. Oh, tiny Rose, with an ego the size of the moon.

Elsewhere I describe myself as "smart, cute & cuddly. Okay, maybe a bit of a wise-guy, but so what?"

Will my child be this painfully obnoxiously cute? I'm not sure my heart can take it.
 
30 August 2015 18:54
dantesspirit: (Default)
Your grandparents looked like they were absolutely wonderful people.

And yes, if your past self is any indication, your future child will be similar.}:P
30 August 2015 08:18
Gosh, that picture of her looking over her glasses is somethin' else.

I saw some of this on Twitter and then had to go do something and forgot to check back in, so thank you for this centralizing post, because this is wonderful stuff.

(My folks have recently given us a CD & a DVD of some of their early courting moments. I hope my mom gets going with the organization of her mom's pictures, because there's some gems in there.)
30 August 2015 18:34
I wanted more kids than two. Oh man, did I. Until Mariel - about the time we'd have been shooting for #3, autism was kicking in with a vengeance, genetics was a strong factor, and I just plain didn't have the "gedilt." (That could be Yiddish for "spoons" - which works perfectly for me as I hate the spoon metaphor.) I don't know, maybe it's the same sort of melancholia.

But over the years I have learned there is so much to being human that runs similar from culture to culture, so much similar from childhood to childhood... I'm going to mention someone you knew years ago by initial.

C and I have been friends for years and years. Early on, when Mom first met him, she nudged me at one point at a picnic at one point and whispered emphatically "er geshert (not sure I remember the word right) mir fun deine Tatte." "He reminds me of your father."

His and J's children, especially the girls, are so much like my niece and nephew especially in the baby photos, it's... not disturbing, actually, but very much food for thought. The joke there? My brother is adopted. I know the story of that (private, 1960) adoption, and it's actually not unreasonable that there's a distant blood link in their ancestry. But so distant - is it possible that there are any genetics of facial expression to be shared? Or is there something else at work, something less scientifically rational? I don't know, I won't pretend to guess, I will simply celebrate the mystery of being human.

So I am part of their four childrens' lives; that plus experience from the years I worked as an aide and a lunch lady in the primary school world, I'll say that facial expressions will be both nature and nurture, as will language use and attitude, and more than likely Futurekid will be more kin to you than not, in ways that transcend simple physical genetics. (BabyViking #3 at age 4 is a little delayed in some expressive language use, and C noted once that even though I rarely speak Yiddish to them, her grammar structure seems to be shaped with Yiddish structure also.)

Also, I can see your face in that photo of your grandma. What a blessing, to have had grandparents. Mine were all dead by 1945, more than 17 years before I was born. I am fortunate to have photos that were sent to US relatives, or carried by those who left Europe before the war. I look like all four grandparents, although I wish I had the elegance apparent in my paternal grandmother's posture and expression. You probably have more of that than you can see in the mirror, and wouldn't surprise me a bit if Futurekid gets more than a trace of that from you.
30 August 2015 18:39
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)
Thank you for this, it's lovely and kind.
31 August 2015 17:42
brooksmoses: (Default)
Yes -- when we were starting on a process of egg-donor fertility treatments, we talked to a therapist who specialized in that area. She had also had her own child by egg donation many years ago, and so the relevant not-genetically-related child was now an adult.

Her experience agreed with a lot of what you said: a very significant amount of physical resemblance came by way of facial expressions, which were all about the "nurture" side of things. The parts where she (only occasionally) found her child reminding her of the donor came up more in occasionally hearing a bit of the donor in their voice rather than in looking at them.
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