Held hands

I’ve been thinking about my mum’s grandma. Mum was only a little girl when she died, and sadly I never asked Mum about her memories of her, if she had any. Great-grandma lived with one of her four sons in London for the latter part of her life, and Mum’s family were somewhat peripatetic due to her father moving from different jobs. He was aboard twice, in Manaus in Brazil and in the Cape Verde Islands; I don’t suppose we will ever know what he was doing there, he worked with accounts but I don’t think he ever qualified as a chartered accountant. My great grandma Lois was born in 1853, the seventh of ten children born to Martha Ann Penney, née Quenby. Some of Lois’s siblings died while young, little Matilda died when she was only two and Harriet was only four. I know some outline facts about Lois, I know how her grandchildren thought of her when she was an elderly woman, but I can only guess at her personality. As for her parents, apart from their names and dates, I have no sense of the people they were, let alone their own parents an ancestors… just names, and dates…

Earlier this year I read a wonderful book by Rebecca Wragg-Sykeys, Kindred: Neanderthal life, love, death and art. There is a beautiful image she creates of a woman – and I thought of myself, stretching her hand out and her mother taking it, and her mother stretches her other hand to grasp her own’s mother’s, who does the same, and there’s a line of connection through held hands back to beyond any ancestor we could possibly know or maybe even imagine. I thought of this as I was thinking about Mum’s grandma, my great-grandma. I have photos of her, and paintings of her as a young woman, but I have to imagine her mother, Martha Ann, and her mother, Anne, and her mother, Martha and her unknown anonymous mother…


Ida 8

Lois c1873 1878

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