Every time I spend the weekend at my aunt and uncle’s you are
subjected fortunate enough to learn more of my family history.
This weekend proved quite exciting for many reasons. Not just me, but for you as well.
How many of us get to look in to the face of someone born in 1797?
Not many not many (though Bruce sang this in “Santa Claus is Coming To Town” I am not quoting him here so I don’t owe him any royalties).
For years whenever I have gone to my aunt and uncle’s I have picked up these little pictures they kept sitting out on a chest. They are encased in a little, maybe one and a half inch by one and a half inch “book”. The picture is actually on glass. Very good likeness. Inside it is written that there are actually 4 of these “vignettes”. Which makes me a little sad. Because there are only 2, that means that 2 are gone, missing, or in some other family branch’s possession. They were obviously very well cared for. We know the cost was $1.00 for the 4 vignettes because it is still written inside the frame. And for those times the cost of $1.00 was likely a very high price to pay for something so frivolous. And likely considered very fancy. Now they are very old. One is of a man who at first look appears to be quite older than he is. It’s the beard. And the time he lived. The other is a very stern looking woman with very hard worked hands. We knew they were related to us. We even knew their names. We just didn’t make the connection. We’ve had all of this information for years. We just had not put it all together yet.
Until this weekend.
Not just the connection. But their birth, their death, and some very pivotal parts they have played in our lives so very many years later. (This should intrigue you.)
I can not tell you how many times I’ve looked at these faces.
But at our eureka! moment I picked up this picture on glass and looked again.
We were afraid to scan them because we didn’t know what the light of the scanner would do to the vignette, the picture on glass. And I refer to them as “vignette” because that is what is written on the inside by the person who sold them so many many years ago.
We took pictures with the digital camera. And we loaded them on our computers.
I spent most of the drive home looking at their faces. I put my fingers over the lower part of their faces to see if their eyes look familiar. I put my fingers over their eyes to see if their mouths look familiar. I looked. And looked. And looked.
She is my great, great, great grandmother. Born in 1797.
I am fascinated.
I can look in to her eyes.
Eyes that were born in 1797.
Actually I can even blow up the picture and retain very good detail.
I know she appears stern. But the times called for very serious money to be spent on something so new fangled and fragile. So I am sure this was very important to them. Back then they didn’t hold the hundred pound contraptions out in one hand and turn the camera around and snap this. This was likely a very involved process and procedure for them.
But…. there she is. Caped. Bonnet-ed. Serious face. Hard working hands. I know she worked hard (our history shows our family knew hard word and the benefits of it).
I know a lot. But I’d like to know more.
I’d like to think, and wish I knew, that there was a smile right before and right after this picture.
I’d like to think, that she hoped it would mean something to someone. Some day. And maybe she wondered what her grandchildren would think.
I’d like to think there was joy in her life that the actual expression on her face couldn’t show. But the fact that they could afford such a luxury as this, meant that there were good times in their lives.
I’d like to think she sat in the evenings and wondered about her great, great, great grandmother and marveled at all of the changes that she lived compared to what her g-g-g-grandmother lived.
I’d like to think she wondered how she was like those before her.
I’d like to think she wondered about who was coming after her.
I’d like to think that my grandchildren will look in to the face of this woman, their great, great, great, great, great grandmother and wonder all about her.
And will they wonder…. do I look like her?