Saturday, October 14, 2006

Heartbeats


This photo is was taken on July 04, 1919 in Cartierville, a suburb of Montreal. It's my almost headless maternal grandmother with my mother (bottom right) and my Uncle Charlie. This is the one grandparent that I don't remember. Charlotte, or Lottie, was born in rural Eastern Ontario in 1880 and died in Montreal in 1949, on Christmas Eve when I was two. I have no memory of grandma although I sometimes fancy that I have a dim recollection of being held by someone in her bedroom when she was in bed, presumably on her deathbed. I don't know is it's a real memory or whether I fabricated a phantom memory from scraps that I have been told. I was told that I visited with her in her bed a few times, but she never saw me or not more than dimly anyway. You see, by then, the poor lady was blind, but I think she still took some joy from her only grandchild, and I assume that I took the same from her.


According to my mother, grandma took a nasty fall down a set of stairs on New Years Eve, several years before she passed away. Apparently, she went blind afterward, and I believe that she may also have suffered from diabetes. In any event, that tumble was, so I have been told, the beginning of the end for poor, old granny. I wish that I could have known her because according to my mother's notes in the photo album: grandma was "industrious, humble, extremely friendly and helpful, a real jewel. I was lucky in my parents."


The curly-haired boy became my only uncle. (Yes, we are a small family — Uncle Charlie never married, and my father is an only child — as am I). A diminutive man, Charlie might have been described as elf-like, but if so he was a rather jolly elf. I think that I was blessed that we lived with both him and my grandfather when I was young. Perhaps incorrectly, I attribute some of my sense of humour to having lived with him; he had a much more cheerful and joyful attitude than my own parents. Maybe to some extent, he and grandad normalized me a little bit? I'm speculating and not denigrating my parents who were very honest and honourable people.


Unfortunately, Uncle Charlie died young; he was still in his fifties. That was a very hard passage for me to endure because I felt quite attached to him. The rest of my near ancestors lived to decent ages. My grandfathers lived until 78 and 80, and my maternal grandmothers lived well into her eighties, as did my own parents. Notes in the photo album tell me that even my great grandparents, at least on my mother's side, lived into their late eighties, which is pretty darn good for back then.


The cycle goes on, however. Although all those stout hearts have stopped beating, just the other day I heard the heartbeat of my own grandchild. Believe it or not, Sha captured it on her cell phone when she was at the doctor's office. All sorts of genes will be passed along to Smudge from those people in the photo: my mother and uncle when they were kids and my long deceased grandmother who was then younger than I am now. I hope that I get to tell Smudge some of the stories in person when s/he is old enough to hear them.

11 comments:

Turtle Guy said...

Photos such as this one are precious, aren't they! I have a few tucked away that, come to think of it, would make for a wonderful post. Thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post.

I have a plan to use a two-piece children's puzzle that I found at a thrift store of 'mom and baby' animals. I want to decoupage over them with copies of pictures of the 'people moms and babies' in Baby Boy's life.

But then, I have a lot of plans...

Judy - www.judyh58.blogspot.com

Gina said...

I LOVE that photo. The expressions of your mom and uncle are priceless.

Maya's Granny said...

As a granny, I can tell you for certain that your grandmother found joy in you. When you listen to Smudge's heartbeat, you know it.

PBS said...

That's very sweet and proof that life does go on!

Ginnie said...

What a lovely tribute. I especially liked the way that you made the transition of the heartbeats. Your comment where you said you weren't sure if you actually had the memory or if it was fabricated from scraps told to you was very similar to my experience that I wrote about on July 13, called "The Power of Smell...my first memory"

mreddie said...

That is one thing Grandpas are for, to tell all the old family stories to the "grands" - the other thing we are for is to spoil these young ones. :) ec

Cathy said...

Lovely. Very touching.

Norma said...

A lovely story. I heard 2 guys in the parking lot discussing an upcoming birth. The father to be said they had named him Charlie--my how things have changed. Baby not due for 7 weeks. Where's the suspense?

Coll said...

Your words touched me. Such lovely sentiments. Being a grandma, I know, without a doubt, the wonder your grandma felt when she had you in her arms.

Tim Rice said...

Thanks for sharing both words and pictures from your past. They are beautiful and an inspiration. :)