April 1950

April, 1950 is written in faded ink on the back of the old black and white photograph.   Three years before my birth and two years before my parents married, yet I know if I look close I will find myself in this picture. 

My mother sent this photo to me, along with others, so that I could include it in the family cookbook I am compiling for this year’s holiday gift.  Sorting through the photos has been fun.   Stories rush to my mind, things I had forgotten but am glad to remember so I can include them in the book.  There is an older family photo taken of my grandparents, my 2 year old mother and her baby sister from 1933.  But it is this photo set against the Grecian hills of Luca that I keep picking up again and again.  It is a photo taken of my Grandpa and his parents, people who are strangers to me. 

Grandpa, with an ever so slight smile, stands in the full sun staring into the camera lens, his hands resting firmly on the shoulders of his parents seated on a wooden bench in front of him.  Behind them is a stone house with a clay tiled roof and sun-baked dusty hills that roll off into the distance.

He looks so robust!   I see the aquiline nose, chiseled profile and full head of hair, Grandpa’s barrel chest bursts with good health.  Even in black and white his olive skin gleams in the bright sunshine.   He talked his parents into this photo.  They sit stiffly, with grim faces as if they fear the camera.  But I am glad Grandpa convinced them to pose.   I see family.  The nose is the give-away that these men are related, they are cast from the same mold.  Although great grandfather is seated, his perfect posture and the bend of his leg tell me they are the same height as well.  The spit shine on his black shoes surprises me, and I picture him whisking away the dust from the fields before taking his seat for the photo.  IHis black jacket is buttoned over a starched white shirt that I am sure would crackle with my touch.   The arms of the two men form a perfect line, one to the other, running from shoulder to hand to shoulder to knee.  I see their strength.

Great grandmother appears shy, even withdrawn.   A mantle of white covers her dark hair and shoulders. Scuffed shoes peek out from beneath an ankle length apron; her hands are clasped nervously in her lap.  She doesn’t like the camera at all and I can feel her anxiety for it to be over.  So she can scurry back to her baking bread and pots of spicy lamb stew.  These people are my roots, the source of my DNA.  I look and look, trying to see them, straining to figure out what part of them is in me.     

And I wonder … are they looking back out of the photograph, straining to see me?   Would they be pleased with this child that they never had the chance to meet?  Is my Grandpa whispering in their ears, telling them to be proud?   

For the last few years I have explored so many different healing modalities as a means of navigating through life and finding my heart.   Yet nothing has been as powerful to balance my root chakra as this family cookbook project.  The recipes, the stories, the photos have given me a sense of tribe.  I know where I come from and I am excited to be able to give this gift to my children.  I like to think that this ancestral trio is standing behind me as I type, hands upon my shoulders, smiling at my words.   I see them shaking their heads in unison, “yes, we are proud.”

2 Comments

  1. Comment by mom

    Posted on December 21, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Kathy I can’ believe you managed
    to get such feeling from that picture.
    I will have to gaze and notice all
    these things you mention.I look at it,
    and see my dad,and like you stated,
    grandparents I never met..neither did
    Grandma.

  2. Comment by mom

    Posted on December 21, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Kathy I can’ believe you managed
    to get such feeling from that picture.
    I will have to gaze and notice all
    these things you mention.I look at it,
    and see my dad,and like you stated,
    grandparents I never met..neither did
    Grandma.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.