At the centre of your being you have the answer, you know who you are and you know what you want ~ Lao Tzu

Saturday, April 13

Focus on Life - Week 15


This week's challenge was a toughie for me.

Sally's prompt was 'Aged Beauty', and I totally agree with everything she said about, 'Aged pieces have a beauty all their own, a beauty that draws us in to look a little deeper into a past time.'

Trouble is, we have no OLD things - no family heirlooms, no period furniture, we live in modern house built in the 1990s, so no old charm there (despite the ghastly mock-Tudor styling!) I even ventured into the garage to hunt out old tools, but to no avail :(

The saving grace came in the last phrase of the prompt: '... snap a shot of a vintage beauty'.

On my bedroom dresser sits this...


... a photo of my maternal grandmother, in its original 1930s/40s frame, which a distant cousin of my mother's gave me last year. I never met her - sadly she died of breast cancer aged 32, on my mother's 10th birthday.

My Mum actually looked a lot like her, especially with her thick, wavy hair and open face (but no dimple), but she rarely spoke of her - it was too painful, I guess.

So I grew up knowing nothing about this grandmother (not even her name!), except she was from an Irish family, and she named my Mum, Kathleen Margaret.

It was only when I went to register mum's death in June 2000 (she too died quite young, aged 55), that I saw Mum's birth certificate, and read her mother's name - Florence Esther.

This gave me quite a jolt, as we had named our own daughter (born 1997) Esther Florence without even realizing!

Esther is a family name from my husband's side - his mother, grandmother, great-grandmother are all called Esther - but I chose Florence for our baby's second name. Clearly, some how, some way, those names meant something to me...

So when I see this photo each day, of a real vintage beauty, a young woman who died 10 years before I was even born, I feel a deep, deep connection to her.

For in that lovely open face, I see a glimpse of my own mother, and a resemblance to my own features (especially the chin!), and that of my daughter (the sweet smile!)... four women, four generations, one familial thread of DNA.







28 comments:

Birdie said...

How terribly sad she died so young, not seeing her own daughter grow up nor the children and grandchildren to come. It must have been so very difficult for your mother, and immensely painful.

It is strange looking back at family photos isn't it! I have one of my maternal Grandma age 15 (who incidentally though much older than yours was also called Florence - Florence Beatrice) and I see my cheekbones looking back at me (thanks Nan!)and the heavy lidded eyes that my mother also had. I've no children so those genes end with me. I wonder how far they stretch back though?

Bonnie said...

What a lovely treasure to have! How unfortunate that she was never a part of your life and that you were unable to learn more about her from your mother.

Islandgirl said...

I made a point of not using family names when I named my son only to discover that both his names had been middle names of relatives. What a lovely family story... I think collaging the images of the 4 generations into one photo would be rather interesting!

Courtney said...

You just gave me chills! What an amazing story.

AntiquityTravelers said...

what a beautiful post Claire, and lovely to have the picture to remember what brings you together as a family - even if she is no longer with you. I recently found a site that must have been done by one of my relatives who had my family history of my Dad's Mom all the way back to the 1700s. I was shocked. And learned so many new things about our family.

thewovenspoke said...

Claire, what n amazing fact to find out your grandmothers name in this piece of history you have as a treasure.

Paula, Chief Bead Officer said...

My goodness, I just got chills when I read about your daughter's name. That is truly amazing. My grandmother was also a Florence. Your grandmother looks lovely-how nice that your cousin gave you her photo. Do you have the curly hair? It looks very thick in her photo.

Debi said...

An amazing story Claire! Your grandmother is beautiful. I'm glad you have the photo. I wonder is there any way you can learn more?

Shel said...

I got chills when I read what you had named your daughter and the tears flowed!! How lovely that you are able to keep this part of your heritage alive and honor your grandmother so beautifully!!

Janet Bocciardi said...

Oh she died way too young. She must be the angel watching over your daughter, right?!

glassbead, isinglass design said...

What a great story! It's wonderful that your daughter has a name that ended up being so meaningful.

Marlene Cupo said...

What a wonderful post. To think you named your daughter after her without even knowing. Talk about the Hand of God!

Therese's Treasures said...

This was truly an interesting and touching story.
Therese

Adrienne said...

What a wonderful story, amazing how you name your daughter without even knowing the history on your mom's side!

Karen Williams said...

What a wonderful gift that photo was! It seems like it helped make her real for you, despite the circumstances. I love the story of the names - like an angel was whispering in your ear.

Alicia said...

Wow, that is a beautiful story. A bit sad, but still beautiful. My own paternal grandmother died of breast cancer quite young (in her 50s) and I saw her only once or twice growing up (my parents were divorced for a long time), I didn't even know her real name until 2 years ago when my son had a project for school to make his family tree. And then I realized that, just like you, I have named my son after her! Her name was Wilhelmina (German descent) and my son's name is William... I found it incredibly touching at the moment, it still makes me wonder what forces were at work when we picked his name :)

Karen Mitchell said...

A beautiful photo and a wonderful story.

Donna said...

Wonderful and thoughtful post, I even have a couple tears in my eyes. So glad you shared that with us. xx

Beti Horvath said...

Great choice for this challenge! Your picture and story make me want to dig into my family pictures!

Patty Woodland said...

What a shame your mother could not share more of her with you. She looks so young in the photo

Mary K. McGraw said...

How serendipitous for you to have named your daughter after your grandmother. Love the picture and I know you treasure it.

Designed by Vera said...

How cool is that! Same name! I love looking at old photos. Such a more simpler time...even with it's hardships!

Tam said...

WOW. That is such and awesome and beautiful story surrounding your grandmother and the name. Perhaps, from the other side, she influenced the name. Or, perhaps, your daughter chose the name before she incarnated. And she is beautiful.

Julie Panusis said...

Beautiful lady, thanks for sharing.

LoriF said...

How wonderful to have at least that bit of family history! I too know very little about my maternal or paternal predecessors, not their names, nothing...very interesting post!

Annette said...

Your story has left me a little teary. What a beautiful woman she was!

Shaz in Oz.CalligraphyCards said...

Hullo Claire,

Well, finally popping over from WOYWW and saying hi a tad late but not apologising as means get to read this lovely post as well as the WOYWW one!!

Ah great LO below and really enjoyed this story immensely, if rather poignant in places,

God bless, Shaz in Oz.x

Christine said...

What a beautiful story. Love that your cousin passed on the photo, one of mine gave me a photo of my paternal grandmother and it completely threw me as even my own mother never met her and to see her staring out at me .......... I could see which of my Aunts followed her, that I do know!!!