Behind the door of my Dad’s tall-boy wardrobe, stuffed away at the back of one of the shelves, lived a stack of old photos.
Very old photos. Photos of ancestors long gone, some known, some remaining unnamed to the day my Dad was also gone.
Photos of my Dad will always include his name, so as future generations will not be left wondering, for years on end, as we were, as to his identity.
Who was the lady, in the largest photo of them all, the lady with the hint of a smile around her lips and the kind eyes, wearing her “Sunday Best”, posing for the photographer who possibly took her photo with one of those very old fashioned cameras we see only in museums and in old films, that let out a puff of smoke when the photo is taken?
My Dad suspected she may have been his grandmother, although he didn’t know for sure. He didn’t know the Christian names of any of his grandparents. When he was a young lad, children just simply didn’t ask such trivial questions, so never would know their names.
The years went by. The lady with the hint of a smile and the kind eyes remained unnamed.
Fortunately for me, I wasn’t born back in the day when “children should be seen and not heard”. My inquisitive mind would not have coped with such treatment. I like to know who’s who and what’s what.
Researching a subject of interest to me brings about a great deal of satisfaction.
Back in the 1990’s, when I discovered the internet, the search engine became my best friend.
All of the doors covered with years of dusty old cobwebs were finally opened up to me, as I researched my family history, finding the names of the unknown and unnamed ancestors my father and I had often wondered about.
Dad’s grandmother’s names were Mary-Anne and Alice, but which name belonged to the lady with those eyes and that hint of a smile? Was she really either of his grandmothers, or had verbal history got the whole story completely wrong?
Was the lady even family at all?
The answer to those questions arrived unexpectedly, without fuss or fanfare, when I recently discovered a cousin who had, to date, been completely unknown to me.
Our parents were first cousins, therefore, that meant we shared great-grandparents.
My new-found cousin emailed me a copy of an old photo he had, a photo of our great-grandmother, Alice.
It was her. Dad’s old photo, from the back of the shelf in his tallboy.
Her name is Alice. Alice, with the kind eyes and the hint of a smile.
A beautiful lady.
A beautiful name.