This is my all-time favorite photograph of my Grandma Polly. I love her sultriness and her confidence. She was a strikingly beautiful woman who lived life to the fullest. But she hated this photograph, especially the cigarette dangling from her hand. She didn't want us to see who she used to be. She wanted us to see the church lady and the grandmother she had become.
What I wouldn't give to be able to travel back in time to meet my mother and grandmothers as younger women. I think I would learn so much from knowing how they viewed the world then, as compared to their later years.
Over time, Grandma Polly shared some things with me, rattling stories off matter-of-factly. She knew I was a writer and that I collected family stories, and like most people in my family she chose her words carefully in my presence. But I wanted to know more.
Then again, when I think about my own life, I know there are things about me my children don't know and will never know. When I give them advice, they know I'm speaking from experience, but they don't know every painful detail. They see the woman those experiences have shaped. They see the woman I want them to see.