When I was a little girl, I visited my grandparents with my family. In the room where my sister and I stayed, there was a photograph of this beautiful young woman. I didn't find out until much later that it was a photo of my grandmother. By the time I knew her, she was a very short, obese woman who didn't resemble the photo much at all.
My grandmother died of colon cancer at 71. She lived in Texas and I have spent most of my life in California. My parents always considered themselves poor, although I think they really just believed that airplane tickets were a luxury they didn't want to afford. I could probably count the number of visits with my grandparents on one hand. So, I never knew them well. But the photo stuck with me.
When my grandfather died, many years later, I made sure I went to his funeral and helped my mom clean out his house. He was my last living grandparent, but I didn't really know or like him a whole lot. Mostly, I went to Texas just to find this photo. It was the one thing of my grandfather's that I really, really wanted. I picked up a few other things while I was there, but I was mostly sorry to have brought back a sofa, a coffee table and a wing-backed chair. The photo, I've never regretted.
Today, one of my very favorite things to do is ask Smuch who this is a picture of...the picture of the beautiful young woman. He never fails me. "You?" he says.