I was showing photos of our family and friends to our daughter this evening. This has become a favorite part-time pasttime for us, which I find moving, difficult, and thrilling all at the same time. The pictures dislodge memories of younger days, when I looked wiser and more alive, and the baby pictures remind me of those squawking first few weeks that gave life to a new being. Some of the photographs depict people who are no longer alive, like my grandmother. I told my daughter, “this was my grandmother,” and as the words rolled out, I found myself drowning in the word “was,” a word not like any other, a word that shows the finiteness of our being in three long letters and one syllable. I also thought about how the word “was” somehow indicates objectness — a non-human quality, as if the coil sloughed off of us is an it and not part of us.

One thought on “Was”

  1. When our son Matt was five, we did not want him to forget the he had been born in the Maritimes so we put together a “biography” for him. Quite a bit of text plus photos and various artifacts from his life. When he turned six he asked for an update. And has every year since. Morag, who is now nine also got one for her fifth birthday and has had yearly updates. (Their birthdays are Ocotber 24 and November 4) It becomes a fair amount of work each year. But we can’t stop now and they continue to love it. Each year I live with the expectation our son will let us know he is “too old” for this but it has yet to happen. Putting in pictures of my mom in this year’s biography and wondering exactly how to word the text echoed your description of “was”. Nice moment. Thanks.

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