The other day I was helping my mom clean out the attic. Working through a pile of dust covered boxes, I discovered a photo album that time seemed to forget.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“That’s grandma’s. I haven’t seen that since before you were born,” replied my mom.
The binding cracked as I turned each page. It was filled with black and white photos of happy days, picnics and family celebrations. Turning another page I discovered a wedding photo. The bride was radiant, wrapped in delicate lace and crinoline. The groom was dressed smartly in a military uniform.
“Who’s this?” I asked.
“That’s Aunt Louise,” mom said.
“Was she married?” I asked. Aunt Louise was my grandma’s sister. All my life I thought she was a spinster. She had no children, so I assumed she never married. Amongst my brother and I, we marveled how this funny, intelligent and beautiful woman managed to stay single all those years.
“Yes,” said my mom. “His name was Jacob. He was her childhood sweetheart. Apparently they were inseparable growing up. He was drafted in the war. They got married just before he shipped out.”
This was a revelation, a genuine family secret. It felt like entering into a long lost family drama.
“What happened to him?”
Mom sighed. “He was killed on D-Day. Aunt Louise never said more than that, and we weren’t allowed to bring it up.”
“Why didn’t she remarry? Se was so young,” I said, staring at the happy couple in the photo.
“He was the love of her life. Sometimes the wounds of war never heal.”
I closed the photo album and set it to one side. For some reason I can’t fully explain, I had to let this memory live on.