In particular, I am captivated by this woman:
|I wish I knew what year this picture was taken.|
This is Harriet Cecilia, known as Cecilia to her family, born December 1886 in Hackney, London. She is my paternal great grandmother. I never knew her because she died in 1915 of "Pulmonary Tuberculosis," at the age of 29 years, 11 months.
I knew this woman:
This is my grandfather's second wife. I was very young when I knew her, and she seemed impossibly old, deaf, and utterly frightening, as the very old seem to the very young.
As for Harriet Cecilia, she came to Canada in 1908 and was married on July 1st of that year to my great grandfather (who came to Canada from Wales in 1907). Her sister married my great grandfather's brother:
What was it like to get on board a ship and leave your country behind? What was it like to come to a new country? Were she and my great grandfather very much in love? What was daily life like for her here in Canada? Did she find the Canadian winters appalling? Chances are she had to make all of her children's clothing herself, and chances are she had to work very hard to take care of her 4 children without all the modern conveniences we have now.
I love this picture:
|my grandfather--on the right--must be about 4 in this picture. Their baby sister,|
Cecilia was born in 1914, so my great grandmother is either pregnant in this
photo, or maybe the baby's inside sleeping???
Here is the back of the photo:
A man was coming round with a donkey to take pictures, and little Gladys was scared, so her mother had to come around to be near her.
1914. Just imagine: there were no telephone bills, cell phone bills, computers, televisions. Would your house have electricity yet? Indoor plumbing boomed after World War 1 in 1918.
What did everyone do for fun? What kind of meals did Cecilia make each week? What were family favourites? Did she love gardening as I do? What were her favourite flowers?
I would love to step back in time, if only for a day, to meet her and ask her a million questions.
This is the last picture taken of my great grandmother, with her husband and children. Some of you will remember this photo from THIS POST. Cecilia has tuberculosis. It is mere months before she passes. The whole family knows that she is dying. I find this picture dark, and poignant, and terrible, and beautiful.
After she died, my great grandfather was so distraught he tried to throw himself down the stairs, but was stopped by his sons.
I know now that Cecilia died in the Muskoka Sanitorium for Tuberculosis, which was the first free tuberculosis hospital in the world, and the initial, smaller site was the first TB hospital in Canada.
What would it be like to arrive here:
(There is an interesting gallery of historical pictures for the hospital HERE. )
knowing that this is the last place you would ever see. Knowing that you would never see your home again, and there would be no more opportunities for travelling photographers with donkeys to take your picture?
I can't even imagine.