Gin Rose was the name of my step-grandmother, my father’s step-mother. The story below is about me taking a photograph of her standing next to my grandfather’s coffin. It was first published on June 25th, 2011 on the Apocrypha & Abstractions website.
I don’t know where that photo I took is today, but the memory of taking it has always haunted me. The photos above of Gin Rose and my grandfather were taken in 1982, four years before my grandfather passed.
With Polaroid in hand, I climbed into a chair so I could stand above them. My father held my arm to steady me. I knew Ginrose did not want this to be the last photograph taken of her with T.J. But she had requested that this photo be taken. He had on a snap-button Western shirt, tucked into his plain grey slacks. He smiled slightly, or at least I thought it was a smile at the time.
I don’t remember what Ginrose was wearing, but I’m pretty sure it was something off the shoulders. I have fond memories of going with them to the garden to pick tomatoes, and Ginrose always wore a tube top. The warm Southern sun had kissed her shoulders with pretty round freckles. The plump folds of her midsection were soft when she hugged me and she always smelled like roses. That confused me since that was part of her name. Her hair was a red raving beehive.
They both wore glasses. She adjusted hers while I waited and then she lovingly turned to check his. I wondered to myself if she had done that while he was living.
There’s an old saying that if you touch a dead body in the coffin then you won’t have dreams about that person, or be sad for them, or something like that. As I squeezed the button and waited for the flash, I wondered what a photograph would repress.