As a kid I would always gaze at this collage, displayed in my grandparents’ hallway. I’d try to figure out who-was-who. The black-and-white photos were of my great grandparents and great aunts and uncles, many of whom had passed away. But pictures of those I knew well were equally mysterious: my grandparents as babies? Was this little girl my mom or my aunt? I admired the 1920s baby clothes, 1940s suits, 1950s hairdos, 1970s wedding gowns. Occasionally I asked my grandfather or grandmother questions---but more often I’d try to piece together the puzzle by myself. When I was 8, I was at my grandparents for a Sabbath meal with my cousin. When her parents picked her up I felt sad. I told my grandparents it wasn’t fair that she had a family with both a mom and a dad. The photo collage still had pictures of my dad as part of the family; why had things changed? My grandparents let me cry. My grandmother told me that she too had parents who divorced when she was a little girl, and how lonely she felt. Her story gave me  strength. The people in the photos weren’t always smiling, they were dealing with hardships and piecing it together too.  When my grandmother died, my mother, who had created the collage in 1976,  reframed it and it’s been on my wall ever since. In the 1980s she built a new life, marriage and career, displaying tremendous strength. Her own willingness to frame and reframe, always honoring the past and being as genuine as possible, has been an inspiration.  

Year: 1906

– Annie Polland

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more