I own a small photograph of my grandmother, it’s almost quadratic and on the sides you can see dark strips with rectangular holes from the film roll.
It’s a black-and-white photograph and my grandmother looks beautiful, standing slightly turned away from the camera, her gaze to the far right, facing something or someone I’ll never know.
It was taken in 1950, as the pencilled numbers on the back of the photograph tell me, and it still makes me cry sometimes, just looking at it.
It was given to me on the day of her funeral, by her godson. I’d read a little stupid poem, infinitely less funny than the ones she used to write for us on birthdays or anniversaries, but I read it still, in the quiet of the high-ceilinged church, in the hope that she would listen, and know how cherished she was, and how much comfort she used to give me.
I miss her still, sometimes, unexpectedly on a normal day just like any other, when my gaze falls on her photograph and I suddenly realize that she’ll never know me, the real me, the woman I have become and that I am still becoming out of the child she knew so well.
That is a selfish thought, maybe, but I wish sometimes that she could know me now, and see me, and talk to me still.
I remember vividly, reading to her the first “book” I ever wrote. I was very proud of it and even though it was silly and clunky, I wanted for her to hear it, and she listened closely.
She taught me how to fold the three strips of dough in just the right way so that we could take a delicious, light brown “Zopf” out of the oven by Sunday morning.
When I would sleep over at her and Grandpa’s house, I never had to fear waking up and being the only one awake yet, I could always bet on her sitting at the breakfast table already, drinking coffee and solving a crossword puzzle with the old wall clock ticking away the minutes behind her.
She took me to the swing behind their apartment block on sunny Saturdays and watched me swing as high as I could against the impeccably blue sky, dandelions growing on the grass next to her.
And it is very selfish of me, but I sometimes wish she could still watch me soar
as far as I can into the wide open sky.