LADY OTHER SIDE OF LENS
Beverley Anne Callahan & Lawrence E. Collins
“I went to a wedding on the weekend as the guest of a friend of the family several days after I moved here. The Church ceremony and reception was across the city on West Valley Drive. The bride was beautiful!” my new next-door-neighbour was saying as she pointed at the photo.
I felt I should invite her over for a ‘welcome to the neighbourhood afternoon tea’ on my veranda. I sat, barely listening, with this complete stranger rambling on about her life history, the people she knew, the places she’d been, replete with her family photo album.
“I know I shouldn’t have taken a picture of the family, as they had hired a professional photographer, but I couldn’t resist,” she said.
I looked at the family photo. I then realized I had become like the stranger next door with my own family. I was always, and only, the lonely lady on the other side of the lens. I was the one taking the family photos of our daughter hugging her loving father at the family gatherings I organized, the two of them enjoying the dining-room meals I prepared, standing with their matching suitcases in the lobby at the hotels, lying side by side laughing on blankets on the beach on the vacations I arranged, her opening his gifts to her I purchased and wrapped for the holidays, her prom, her graduation. I was never in any of the photos. He stole her love, which he would not share. I was not even invited to her wedding as he told her I was to blame for our divorce.
“Do you know the family?” my new neighbour asked. “You don’t look well. You look like you’ve had a shock. Did you recognize someone?”
“How do you know her?”
“I met her once when she was eight years old. I went to her house to speak with her mother. Her mother was in the other room when her daughter, the young girl, answered the door. When I heard her mother ask who is it, she called out ‘A lady. A stranger.’ As we waited, she looked at me with her beautiful blue eyes, tossed her golden hair and said ‘My mother has told me not to ever speak with strangers.’ I suddenly didn’t feel very well, so I said goodbye, and left.”
“Have you seen her since?”
“Remarkable you would recognize someone you haven’t seen in years, since she was a young girl.”
‘I would recognize her beautiful blue eyes and golden hair anywhere.”
“How is that possible?”
“I’m her grandmother.”