Time to Start Thinking About These Things

Grandma with bouquet

Grandma with her bouquet–the photo that started our impromptu modeling session

I haven’t posted much about Grandma for the past few months because my visits to her have generally been heartbreaking. Every Wednesday, I bring a new bouquet to brighten up her room in an assisted living facility. When I arrive, she’s almost always lying in bed, listening to an audio book but unaware of its plot or title. She tends to be weak and disoriented, asking the same question over and over. I don’t like to dwell on the image of the lost and feeble shell that’s taken the place of my once-vibrant grandmother.

This week was different, though. When I brought my fresh bouquet to Grandma’s bed for her inspection, she sat up and said, “Take a picture of me with it!” So I did, but she wasn’t done. She ordered me to take pictures of her with some of her favorite objects. By the end of our impromptu modeling session, I had almost 40 pictures. Here are some of my favorites:

Grandma with doll

Grandma with the doll I bought her when I was studying in France. I still remember walking into a little shop, seeing the doll, and knowing it had to be Grandma’s.

Grandma in chair by picture wall

Grandma with one of her walls of family photos; she’s got even more that aren’t visible from this angle.

Grandma with typewriter

Grandma with the typewriter her mother bought her for her high school graduation gift. To this day, Grandma doesn’t know how her mother afforded it or how she managed to carry it the three miles from the nearby town where she bought it.

Grandma with Raggedy Ann and Andy

Grandma with her Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls

Grandma with We Can Do It poster

Grandma with her Rosie the Riveter poster. “That was a big thing back then,” she explained.

Grandma with two apple tree pictures

Grandma with pictures of a crabapple tree  painted by my brother Jeff. He painted the one on the right when he was a little boy; he’d been very naughty when she was babysitting him, so he made this picture of her favorite crabapple tree as atonement. Years later, he made the one on the left as a Christmas gift: Same tree, different era.

Grandma was pleased with her photo shoot. “I don’t mean to be morbid,” she said, “But I’m glad you’ll have pictures of me after I’m gone. When you’re 97, you have to start thinking about these things.”

Indeed you do, and indeed she did.





  1. Thank you for the pictures of Naomi….I’ve been wondering how she was doing. George and I sat
    out in the pool this afternoon and talked about all the Aunts and Uncles and relatives and it was
    sad to think that so many have passed on. He will be 84 in Nov. and I will be 79 in April and we are the old folks now. Fortunately we are doing great and hope to see a few more years that we can enjoy. My sister, Lee, has finally retired at 86 but she has been very sick and possibly is in kidney
    failure. We are waiting for news one way or the other. Florence, the middle sis is 84 and still working part-time at Youth for Christ. Keep us in touch with your interesting family ….I look forward
    to your posts. Lois

  2. I would say that this qualifies as a moment of unexpected beauty, Rebecca. There is so much to notice here. Just a few off the top of my head: the typewriter story, the plain lady I notice framed on the wall, and art as atonement – wow! Also, I didn’t know you studied in France either. Wow!

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