Mama over time

Mama 1900

I’ve got two photos of my grandma, whom we called mama, in my lounge room. The one above was taken when she was small – would you say two or three? – with her brothers and sisters, in around 1900 (she was born in 1898). I love it – the family resemblance between them is so clear, and mama looks so wary and classically uncomfortable – no doubt it was not a common occurrence and she had to keep still. And with each year that passes it is longer and longer ago – those old style dresses, the painted backdrop, the sepia colours of the print. Even the names of her siblings – left to right from the back, Elsie, George, Irene (called Rene), then in front, Myrtle (called Myrt), Cyril and Stella (mama).

Mama 1961

The second photo is around 60 years later and I also love it. It shows mama holding my brother Richard, who is six weeks old, and in front I have my tongue out and am holding a cup and a doll, and Jane is squeezing the cat. We’re sitting outside our back door. I love all our expressions, and mama looks a lot like I remember her – very granny-like. Mum probably took the picture and she very nearly missed Jane altogether – but there’s a great shot of the tap!

It’s not the technicalities that interest me here, though, but the mystery of how we change, how to we grow into ourselves, how we stay ourselves through our various incarnations over time. It is fantastic to think that the little awkward and wary girl in the older picture is the same person as that old lady in the more recent one; the stiffly placed hands in the first picture (you can see she is trying very hard to do the right thing I think) the same as the arthritic, soft hands in the second. Or indeed that I am the same person in 1961 (much the same age as mama was in the first picture) as I am now (just a few years younger than mama in the granny shot).

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12 Responses to Mama over time

  1. Mandy says:

    Wonderful nostalgic sorry. Is it a special occasion that brought these lovely memories to us?

  2. Mandy says:

    Wonderful nostalgic story. Is it a special occasion that brought these lovely memories to us?

    • Hi Mandy,
      Lovely to hear from you – no, there is no special occasion – I’ve just been thinking about it a bit, and I love the pictures, so good to share. Mama was a dear, and it doesn’t take much to think about her. Thanks a lot for the comment – you’re a dear too!

  3. nickypage says:

    And I’d just add that the little mama’s expression is very like one I’ve seen on your own dear face from time to time. Mostly when you’re telling a story about some authority making someone so something they don’t agree with!

    • Hi Nicky, well there’s a thought! I love the idea that my stroppiness comes in direct line from Stella’s – I’ll channel her next time I want to explode (that sweet little determined face is sure to help!)

  4. romi789 says:

    What an interesting line of thought- linking our younger physical selves with our older real selves and those of our fore-mothers. lovely pics

    • Hi Romi,
      Yes I seem to be a bit preoccupied with the oddness of time of late, and this is one way I’ve been pondering it. The pics are great aren’t they.
      Great to hear from you dear – xox

  5. Kathy says:

    Love the photos. Love the tap in the photo too. In our family it always seemed to be a bottle of tomato sauce on the table that was centre-stage. Maybe in the digital age we’ll miss the taps and sauce bottles.

    • Yes, mum often took the pics in our family, and often managed to catch something unintentional. Dad was in Camera Club for a time, so concentrated on making good pictures, but even that wasn’t foolproof. We have had many a laugh over dad’s artistic placement of a person without noticing the big pimple in the middle of their nose or whatever made the resulting snap hilarious. Hooray for sauce bottles, taps and pimples I say! xox

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