Daisy never wore shoes. She didn’t wear them when we met in college, and she didn’t wear them the day this picture was taken. She was in her sister’s living room that day, flipping through an old magazine. I remember she liked the magazine a lot because I could hear her making that humming noise all the time, she was always making a little humming noise when she read something she thought was interesting. I took the picture because somewhere in my old bones I felt like everything was going to be okay for the last time, that something bad was about to happen.
When you’re old, you start to prepare yourself to die. You wait for the fall or the cough that will send you to the hospital. You are fragile. That doesn’t make it any less hard, though. It wasn’t even a week later when she had the stroke. She fought hard to stay alive, but after a long fight, I let her go. I held this picture close after that, Daisy wearing white, like an angel, her shoes off the way she always liked them. I still keep the picture next to our bed. Sometimes, late at night, I can even hear her humming.
Story by Jilly Pretzel
I took this picture of Grandma. She was a sport and great fun. At least I thought so. Everyone called her Babs. Her name was Barbara. She didn’t like “Grandma” so Babs seemed to be an acceptable alternate when all the grandkids started coming along. She loved to travel. Grandpa used to joke that if you gave her five minutes notice, drove by the house slowly and left the back window down she’d throw her suitcase in and jump in after it. She always winced a little when he pulled that one out but he never wanted to go anywhere. “Someone has to feed the dogs,” he’d say. “You’re just cheap and a fuddy-duddy,” she’d throw back at him.
This was the trip we took to Six Gun Territory. I don’t think it’s there anymore. Newer, fancier, flashier, more expensive places have taken it’s place. Mom always seemed a little put out when Grandma tagged along. I never knew if it was because she felt like Grandma was in the way, or if she was just jealous because Dad would pay attention to her. Grandma did snore, and she had that constant cough. It was probably just habit. “Drainage,” she’d say, then clear her throat. When she was with us we usually got adjoining suites. Babs and the kids in one room, Mom and Dad next door. Maybe that made the trip more expensive. She always agreed to help pay but Dad would never let her. “Double holiday for me,” he’d say, and grin. Mom always turned red at that one.
I was sick this day. Babs agreed to stay in with me so the others wouldn’t miss their fun. It was a long, hot drive from Chicago to Central Florida. Anything that slowed down the pace or got us off our itinerary was a signal for Mom to do her little rant.
“You’re going to get in trouble if you use up all those Polaroids,” Grandma would say every third picture. I didn’t care. I bought the film; it was mine to waste. But, how can a captured moment be wasteful? I’m happy to still have this picture. I wish we still had Babs.
Story by Steven Yancey