SOURCE: MY GRANDMOTHER
CODEC: 277.3 B789
My grandmother just sent me a photo.
Taken during her time in Germany in the early 1960s, the photo shows her standing in her Red Cross nursing uniform. Her military husband (my grandfather, who I never knew) was stationed in the country, and she volunteered to pass the time. In the photo she's wearing her outfit and looking straight at the camera as she helps put on a Christmas dinner for the elderly.
Years have passed and now it's my grandmother who is the elderly one, though she's blessedly still in amazing health. She just turned 90, but in a recent conversation she told me that her goal this year is to go skiing. It's something she's always loved — I grew up going to the Colorado mountains with her, slowly carrot-ing my way down greens while I watched her speed down black diamonds. The only reason she hasn't gone skiing in years is not because she got too old, but because she moved to Florida. I have no doubt that she's going to accomplish her goal, and kick ass while speeding down the slopes. That being said, even though my grandmother is incredibly fit for a 90-year old woman, she is still 90. I am aware that if her life was a book I was holding in my hands, my fingers would be running out of pages to turn.
So it goes.
I asked her how old she was in the photo she sent me. She responded that she was 31. The same age that I am now.
I try to imagine what it would be like to be 60 years older, looking at a photograph of myself snapped today. It's hard to fathom travelling through time that far.
I went to the library today, before my grandmother sent me the photograph, and I checked out a book published in 1968. The first page of the book has a sleeve that holds a now antiquated checkout card, no longer used, replaced by barcodes and scanners. I tried to decipher when the book was last checked out, but couldn't make heads or tails of the punchcard.
I wonder what the oldest book is, in the stacks.
What's the oldest book that's gone the longest without being checked out?
Is there a book on the shelves that was last checked out when this photograph of my grandmother was taken? I want to find it, to check it out, and then return it to it's position where it will get checked out again after another 60 years have passed.
All those years, which felt so important to me, to my grandmother, seem so inconsequential from the perspective of that book.
So it goes.
Time passes. The photograph captures the moments. We move forward without stopping. The book remains.