I never met Lizzie.
She’s on the far left. My grandmother, her oldest daughter (my aunt) and my aunt’s rather large doll stand with Lizzie.
Lizzie never had any children. She never married. And just recently I have had the excitement of seeing her face. Because I didn’t know there were pictures of her. My uncle and aunt both remember her fondly. And here she stands with her niece and great-niece with a smile on her face.
What is she laughing at?
What was so funny?
She was a midwife back in the day when you had your babies at home and prayed the Lizzie’s of the community would be there to make it alright.
I am fascinated by the not knowing her. Not knowing much about her. I have a few copies of pictures, now, with her in them. They are new to me. And I now wonder even more.
I always knew of Lizzie. But she seemed unknowable. Here, she stands in front of a house that I knew as a child. But the house looked nothing like it does in this picture. By the time my generation got to know this house, we did not know it as they did. But I imagined it in all it’s glory. And the people that it housed, generation after generation, after generation. I had older people of my grandparents generation tell me of sneaking down to the house and staring in to the windows as children just so they could see the ‘fancy’ of the inside of this house. Oh how I would love to see it!
Here Lizzie stands with my Great Grandfather, her brother. And their sister Trude. Behind them stands a tree over Trude’s left shoulder. Do you know what? I use to stand on that tree’s stump. One day I stood out there singing to blazes, the same song over and over again. While dad slept inside the old house we used on weekends to camp in. I stood there singing about saints comin’ marching in. And I would look towards where the waters lie waiting for those saints to come tromping up through the fields. I kept thinking if I sang louder they would surely appear. So louder and louder I sang. The only thing I managed to muster up was my dad’s ire as one of my brothers came out and told me to shut up, dad said to “can it”. “Shut up” was my brother’s term. “Can it” was my dad’s term.
I never saw the tree, only the stump. But there it is. I never saw the house in anything but a deteriorating, albeit sturdy condition. Abused by weather and tenants who moved in when the last of the family inhabitants left the long standing home site of generations.
All of these years I have envisioned Lizzie and Trude, “Papa”, and their parents, and their grandparents in this house. Living a life I can surely only imagine. And a life that I have fallen in love with. Of course I’ve fallen in love with the life I imagine, because I don’t know the life they had. But love it, I do. In my imagination I have created mysteries, questions, and curiosities.
I look at the top picture of Lizzie and want to know what was going on that day. With those people. Did those people ever imagine that decades, and decades, later someone would wonder about them. About that day of their lives. Probably an average day they may not have paid much attention to. As we all tend to do in our every days. But here I sit, wondering.
I look at the bottom picture of the 3 siblings. Did they have sibling rivalry? Did they fight? Did they make each other laugh like only my siblings can make me laugh? Did they roll their eyes at their parents? (Not that I would ever do that…) Did they ever wonder about who was coming after them, like I wonder about who came before us?
My aunt and uncle both remember Lizzie as lovable. Happy. Fun.
So this is what I know about Lizzie.
Some day maybe I’ll write what I imagine about Lizzie. Maybe she’d like that….