The prompt for day 5 of the #30DayFHWChallenge is to select your favorite family photo, and write about the moments just before and/or after the photo was taken. Why was it taken? Was your ancestor happy to be in it?
This is a weird/hard one for me because as I’m not close with my mom’s side of the family, I don’t have very many pictures of them. As children though, we did most of our family type events with that side of the family so while there are many, many pictures of us at family events, I don’t have access to them. But before I became estranged from that side, I was lucky enough that my mother gave me a few pictures so I do have “some” from my childhood remaining. Maybe someday she’ll pass them on but who knows? I have what I have and I cherish them.
This picture was taken 30 Apr 2005 at my cousin Brady’s marriage reception and it is of my children, Noah and Taylor, with my maternal grandfather, Glenn Archer “Archie” Stewart. This one is hard for me to look at. While it’s a great picture of my smiling children with their beloved grandpa, I’m struck by the expression on his face in this picture. Where there should be happiness, I just see pain, emptiness and longing. This was the first big family type event since my grandmother, Clara Lou Peters, had passed away in September 2002. Everyone was so happy, dancing, eating, talking and having a great time but for the life of him, even surrounded by his friends and family on a joyous occasion, he couldn’t and didn’t smile.I sat across from him the entire day and noticed that he was just “absent” from the moment.
This picture to me is just especially heartbreaking when coupled with the note he wrote me around the same time period. He and she both collected cardinals and their house was filled with knick knacks and such with cardinals on them. I had found a card with a beautiful winter scene with a cardinal in the snow and I sent it to him just to let him know I was thinking about him since he had recently been sick. He wrote me this short note in return to say ‘thank you’ and talked about how much he missed her and that he wrote to her every day in a journal as it “keeps us together.” He also notes how hard it is being alone after 50 years together and that they had a “wonderful marriage.”
You always hear the term that someone”died of a broken heart” and I honestly think this was the case with him because I never saw someone so devoid of life after their spouse passed. It was like every ounce of liveliness was gone from him and I truly think it became too much for him to bear. Every time I would see him or call, she was all he talked about. He just never seemed to recover from her death and I know, that I know, THAT I KNOW, he died of a broken heart. No matter what his death certificate says, you can’t convince me otherwise. He was ready to be with her again and that’s all there was to it.
That’s why this picture is so bittersweet to me. My kids look crazy happy to be in a picture with Grandpa Archie but he’s just not “there.” This is probably the last picture I have of him. He passed 23 Dec 2006 in his sleep in the home that he shared with Clara Lou.