It wasn't a large dining room and something tells me the carpet was thinning in places, although I suspect that's an unfair perception conjured up by a child's memory. I could ask Mum what the carpet was like but that would simply add to the blurred line between my own memories and those of others.
“Your grandmother was a quiet lady, to the point of being timid.” Maybe so, but she could be feisty when it came to an eight-year-old who'd finally stepped too far out of line. Probably the saddest thing for me about my grandmother is that I only found out recently she played the piano beautifully. By the time I joined the clan, she'd given her piano to my aunt. She's where my musical abilities originated but I never heard her play.
Shown above are three of the very few photos I have of my grandmother - with her brother, at age 20 and with my grandfather. Great tracts of time passed between each click of the shutter; she passed away when I was nine and I'm left with little to reconstruct her story.
My own mother was forever taking photos (it's possible that I took up photography in self-defense: there's safety on this side of the camera) – my bothers and me in front of a rose garden, more toffee on my hands and face than on the impaled apple. I'm so small next to them that I barely peer over the edge of the frame. Me – a foot or two taller, in front of another rose bush, then a manuka in full bloom when I was tall enough to stand next to it.
Us kids marked our lives vertically on the kitchen door jamb, but Mum recorded my rapid quest for the sky against local flora. By the time I was 12, she was tilting the camera up at my already close-to-six-foot frame.
Memories of my grandmother are scattered like the plastic, cereal-box toys that used to litter her floor as I built ever-sprawling zoos. There's something special about a woman in her 70s who patiently navigates her prosthetic leg around the mine field of her own dining room. She had lived through an earthquake which tore down her town as it raised land from the sea; she'd faced the fearful World War II reality of enemy sightings in the waters of our quiet South Pacific bay.
Lego was no threat to her.