Upstairs in my house on a shelf in the front bedroom I have a cardboard box full of old black and white photographs. When my mother died I found these photographs hidden away in a drawer along with newer colour photos of my children that I had given her and photos my sister had sent of hers.
Grandparents are supposed to be proud of their children and grandchildren. They are meant to display the photographs on mantlepieces, sideboards, grand pianos in some cases. My mother seemed to hate photographs. She loathed any of herself and placed no value on photos of her family. They all ended up in the same place. Shoved into a plastic carrier bag and then pushed out of sight along with a jumble of old bills, letters and cards.
Going through them I find I know so little about the people and the places, yet there are some, like these here, which I must have talked about with her.
I am the eldest of three and I like to think that my mother was happy to have her first baby. Here she is sitting on a step with a friend and they have swapped babies. I am on the right trying to grab the other baby’s rattle while the other baby seems much more interested in whoever is taking the picture. When she talked about this photo my mother said that her friend’s baby was rather placid. It makes me laugh when I look at the next photograph and remember my mother telling me that I was highly delighted when the dog jumped up into the pram we were sharing.
Who was this friend and her baby ? I have no idea. She is not my mother’s best and long term friend Joan Bird who apparently, when her first baby was born, sent a card announcing “The baby bird has arrived” which I think is rather nice.