When Mom died I inherited an old photograph of Grandma Neal. It’s become a favorite of mine, and I’ve put it in a prominent place just above our desk upstairs.
I’m usually not much for family photos. They always seem static and posed and somehow phony, with everyone standing stiffly and grinning like maniacs for the camera. But some photos are special. For me, this is one of them, because there’s a certain air of mystery about it.
I don’t know where, or when, the photo was taken. I know it’s old, because it’s black and white and has been placed in a battered tin frame. I’m guessing it was taken in the ’20s. It doesn’t look like it was taken by a professional, from the pose and the shading. And it’s small enough to carry in the palm of your hand or a pocket. I find myself wondering if it’s a picture that Grandpa Neal took and carried within him.
Whether taken by an amateur or a professional, it’s a wonderful picture of Grandma Neal. She was a handsome woman with strong features, and her face is unlined by age. In the photo she has a slight, enigmatic smile, like the Mona Lisa of Akron, Ohio, but her eyes make it look like she’s ready to burst into a delighted grin and perhaps even a laugh. And laughing is how I remember her.