Saturday, June 20, 2009

black and white secrets

This was a photograph of Bob and Jewel Blaylock, taken in the early 40s, on the beach of Port Aransas.

I always knew them as Mammammy and Granddaddy. They lived with us from the time I was 5 years old until I left for college, so they were my second set of parents.

I thought I knew them.

It wasn't until adulthood that I discovered they'd had their own secrets all along. I wasn't until adulthood that I understood secrets are just a part of life.

Bob was 12 years older than Jewel and, it turns out, she was not his first wife, nor was my mother his first daughter. Where my mom's half sister might be will forever remain a mystery, as will the reasons behind why the divorce settlement apparently included Bob never having contact with his first family again.

After Mammammy died, my dad and I were sorting through a box of her old pictures. One after another, I'd pull out only half a picture, ripped down the center, with my mother as a child. The other half, long discarded, was the face of my grandmother. As a child, my mother would come home to what seemed to be an empty house, only to find mammammy hiding in a closet, sobbing her heart out. Small secrets such as that just seemed to pour out of that box of photographs. I still wonder what heartache drove her. I'm sure undiagnosed depression was part of it. But hearing that story, in the midst of my own depression, I felt as though a small lamp had been lit. It was what drove me to seek help.

I've just finished a weekend of scanning, editing, and archiving another box filled with my family's vintage photographs. So many of the stories behind those moments are lost. Looking at them, it's like another box full of secrets, and they are all my relations.


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