five generations / 13 May, 2006 [click for previous image: coming down]
five generations / 13 May, 2006 [click for next image: untitled #0021]
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Title • five generations

To date, 851 of the 860 entries on chromasia were taken by me; this one, the ninth guest entry on chromasia, was taken by my father; a long time ago.

It's 1967, and this is my great-grandfather's house in Brinkman Street in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

The lady in the bottom right of this shot is my great-grandmother, Grandma Green. From what I can remember, she died when I was around 14; i.e. 1977. I can't say that I remember a great deal about her other than that she always had a big jar of sweets in her cupboard that she would bring down when we went round.

The gentleman sat next to her is my great-grandfather, Grandad Green. He was a private in the Great War (world war one) and in 1918, or thereabouts, was given a full army pension and two years to live after a shell peppered his lungs with shrapnel. He was never especially healthy, but smoked a pipe all his life and lived until he was 84.

Next to my great-grandfather, in the bottom left of this shot, is my great-great-grandma Burton: grandma Green's mother. I don't remember all that much about her – she must have died not more than a year after this shot was taken – but I do remember visiting her house, not too many doors away from my great-grandparents.

In the top left of the shot is my grandmother, Grandma Mabel: great-grandma Green's daughter; great-great-grandma Taylor grand-daughter. She was 90 this year, and still lives in the house that her and my grandfather moved into when they married, well over 60 years ago. She's not quite as sprightly as she used to be, and she now finds her life-long passion of knitting quite difficult, but as best I can tell she hasn't changed much in the 43 years that I've known her.

Next to her is her husband, Granddad George. George was a miner for most of his life and only died a few years ago when he was well into his eighties. I visited him in hospital a few days before he died and told him that he looked a lot better. With a characteristic grin, and a smile in his voice, he said "do you really think so?". He knew better than me and died shortly afterwards.

Next in line is my sister, Andrea. At this point my parents only had the two of us – later there would be two more. She's now a GP (a family doctor) with three kids of her own.

She's being held by my mother (grandma Mabel's eldest) who died in 1991 at 50 years of age. She spent almost a year battling with two different but equally vicious cancers, and was far too young to die. We were all with her in the hospice when she died, and it's an experience that's etched in my memory, that's as vivid now as it was 15 years ago.

And next, there's me, probably about three of four at the time this was taken, probably wearing one of the many thousand of jumpers knitted by my grandmother during her illustrious knitting career.

And finally, my Uncle Jack, my mother's brother: now around 63 years of age.

So, why have I mentioned all this? I'm not sure, other than that I spent a good part of last week thinking that Libby might be next: that she might be about to be a part of my history rather than my future. And I guess the whole experience has been quite sobering.

Oh, and I should mention that it's her birthday today. I won't tell you how old she is, but she's going to be exactly the same age for a good number of years yet ;-)

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