My life through pictures

Gerty Weitzman

I love taking photos.  I’m not so sassy that they all have to be taken with a great camera, perfect lighting and appropriate composition.  I’m just happy to capture the moment, so I can be reminded of my life when Alzheimer’s sets in.

Well, this passed weekend I was with my family in Sonoma.  We were celebrating my Aunt’s (Dad’s sister) birthday when we decided to help her sort through and organize the endless boxes of pictures that we all tend to have.

As we sifted through, I felt like a detective.  Every time I came across a picture of my Gram, Gerty, I stared at the photo trying to uncover more information about her… Was she truly happy on this given day?  Did she like the person with whom she’s laughing in the photo?  Were those her real pearls or were they cheapies?

My Gram died when I was 22 years old and while she and my Pop-Pop, Izzy, used to live with us during the part of the year when it was too dang hot in Miami to even fan yourself, I still feel like I didn’t know her enough.  I was just a kid when she died.  I hadn’t begun to live my life yet — the time when I would have wanted to ask her the million questions I have — What was she most proud of?  What are the things she’d redo?  What were the biggest mistakes she made that turned out to be blessings in disguise?

Through these photos I wanted to know her.  I found out that she went by the name TRUDY!  Trudy?  Are you kidding me?  I never knew that!  Well, her full name was Gertrude, so I guess when she was a kid they shortened it to Trudy and later Gerty (the name I knew her by).  I always knew she was a dancer, but a toe dancer at about 7 years old… that’s impressive, I think.  And, her hair was jet black.  Like shoe polish black.  I’d always heard that, but to see it so clearly in this tattered photos made me feel like I knew her a bit more.  I became insatiably thirsty for Trudy, but we had reached the bottom of the box, so I sat parched in thought.

I won’t likely be having children (that’s a whole other post!) which means there won’t be grandchildren to do this kind of detective work on me.  Still, I wonder what somebody will think of MY life out of context.  I smile in every photo, but do I look happy?  I often wear non-mainstream outfits and make goofy poses — do I look like I’m trying too hard?

It’s funny that I’m asking these questions about Gram because in my line of work, I’m constantly being judged.  Not enough of this, or too much of that.  It’s the part of my business that I despise.  And, isn’t it funny that even after I die, somebody will likely still be judging my life, much the way I’m doing with Grandma Gerty’s.  The irony is not lost on me.

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