the best juju: what I didn’t know

Last weekend we celebrated my mum’s life. Her ashes were interred in Alder Brook Cemetery in Guilford, Connecticut, alongside relatives going back five generations. Afterward, over a meal we passed photos of Mum.

Mum in her bridesmaid's dress the day of her best friend, Ruth's wedding

Mum in her bridesmaid’s dress the day of her best friend, Ruth’s wedding

One of her best friend-for-life’s kids passed this one. It took my breath away.

I don’t know who the photographer was. Dad? A friend? Ruth? What was Mum feeling? Thinking? Was it taken before the wedding? After?

I knew Mum was “Class Heartbreaker” in her high school yearbook of 1943. I knew that she and Ruth met and worked together as “Office Girls” in the New Haven Railroad

Mum and Ruth in front of the New Haven railroad where they met in the steno pool

Mum and Ruth in front of the New Haven railroad where they met in the steno pool

We celebrated every holiday and many days in-between with Ruth and her family. Through their friendship we were  family.

I knew Mum and Ruth when they were far along in being moms. Ruth lugged a hamper full of sandwiches through the New York World’s fair for both of our tribes. They rubbed our backs, terry toweled us dry at the many cookouts at the local swimming hole.

What caught me by surprise  is that she had a life before she was my mum.  At the memorial I heard  many stories of pre-Mum Mum.

The photo, like the anecdotes, opened up a new, deeper narrative. As Ruth always did for Mum, her children brought memories that mattered to me.

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