Pictured: my great-grandmother, Rosa Blaine; to her right is my gram, Mary; to Rosa’s left is Frankie and standing behind is Hattie, Rosa’s sister. This story is taken from genealogy I did on my old blog, Letters to Rosa. I hope you enjoy.


“Gather them Henry,” you said, “we’re to go to the photographer this very afternoon. I’ll not let another day slip away with nothing but memories to keep me …” you broke off as tears threatened. Henry hurried to harness the old mare.

And you, Rosa, quiet Rosa, broken Rosa, slipped into Freddie’s room to shed the sorrow in private.

“Aunt Hattie?” Frankie tugged on the folds of her linen skirt. “Are we going somewhere?”

“You heard right. Now dress in your Sunday clothes and be quick.  We’d best not keep your mum waiting.”

Mary wouldn’t need any prodding, She’d do anything to please her mother. Anything to lessen that terrible ache that stole her laughter and joy. Fredie took something away with him–stole something that could never be replaced. She’d lost her trust in the future.

The ride to the photographer’s was silent, as most outings were just now. Fredie would’ve brought the laughter. Seemed he took that away too.

“Damn these cold October rains.” Henry clicked the horse on faster. Last thing he needed was more sickness, more death and them out and exposed in an open buggy for God’s sake.

Rosa stared ahead with an arm wrapped tightly around each child. She’d hold them close. She’d keep them warm. There could be no more loss in her family.

The photographer nodded his understanding at their unscheduled appearance. Word had spread throughout town about young Fredie’s death. “Sit here, Mrs. Blaine,” he directed kindly, “and Mary, love? You’re to her left.”

Frankie  needed no guidance. He stood to his mother’s right. So serious, too serious. Too much loss for one so young.

“Hattie’s to be in the picture,” you demanded. You wouldn’t spend another damned day without some kind of image. Some way to remember those that pass before their time.

Little Frankie’s hand slipped on top of your’s, Rosa, just in the last second and in an instinctive gesture of love. I’m still here, he seems to say with the innocence of a 7-year-old. I still need you to be okay.


In that moment and with that click of a shutter, you live on Rosa. I see you and your two precious children. I understand now the terrible sorrow and fierce determination in your gaze. Fredie‘s missing in the photo, but not in your heart.

And now you live in mine forever.


15 thoughts on “the story behind the picture…

  1. I miss these people! When you used to write about them all of the time, they became part of my past too! Good to see them again….and those unbelievably long gold curls

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Mine too! I used to get to pour the bottles of gooey black “rinse” over Gramcracker’s hair in the kitchen sink. Must have been a “thing.”


      2. We never questioned why an 89 year-old-woman had black hair. She also wore dresses- you know, that slippery kind that swooshed when she moved. I think it was rayon? Anyways, she had her “everyday” dress, which was dark blue, and her “good” dress, which was dark blue with white polka dots.

        Liked by 1 person

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