And so here I am just going to post photos of this amazing glamourous woman -- wise and wily; she loved deeply. She lived wildly. She was so stunning that, even in old age, people would stop her in the grocery store just to tell her how gorgeous she was. She was shocking and also spiritual. She was called up on stage once to sing with Mel Torme. She had a gorgeous voice and played the piano -- good honky tonk -- and, damn, she could cook. She loved poodles -- had five at the same time during my youth -- and next to her bed there was a picture of a priest -- a man she loved.
My grandmother lost a baby at birth, a boy, and when she was out of her head from medication late in life, she mourned him. The loss never left her.
After my grandfather died, when my grandmother was heading into her forties, she found herself independent for the first time in her life. She went wild. Eventually she fell in love with the grandfather I knew -- Hiram Lane, a double amputee from World War II -- a character in his own right. They had many great years together -- her poodles, his handguns, Ancient Age, fine Southern food. In the pictures from this time, you'll see the two of them singing to each other, shot after shot. He passed away when I was eighteen.
My grandmother had a wonderful companion, Howard, whom she'd known all her life, and he was there with her until the end. She was terrified of dying, but I can't even begin to describe the grace of her ending.
By God, she lit up every room she walked into. Her soul could not be contained.
[The photos that follow aren't in chronological order. But here's a glimpse -- the tiniest window -- into a brilliantly lived life.]
|This is her father, Henry, beloved in the family|
though not one to hold a job long.
He took the fall for my grandfather
and did 18 months in jail.
|My grandmother and her second husband.|
|Pool-side in her 40s.|
|My mother's first husband, my biological|
grandfather, Glenn, on the left (cigarette)
and my grandmother's half-brother,
Lee Irving, on the right.
|My mother as a little kid|
with her mother (on left, hand dainty)
and aunt at the beach.
|Mildred and Hiram.|
|A dreamy shot that would have|
been a good album cover in its day
taken by Hiram.
|This is Ella, her mother, as a young woman,|
wearing a paper dress
she made herself.
|My grandmother on the right,|
in the white headband.
She's so young but this is likely
shortly before she was
to be married.