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.