I've been finding treasures in the family archives: photographs of my Grandmother Athalia Ogden Barker that are new discoveries. They are even more meaningful since her recent death at nearly 97 years of age. Here she is in two photographs that took a great deal of retouching, spotted and faded and brittle with age.
At right, Athalia Barker poses for what I believe is a senior year portrait, Smith College class of 1932. Poised in pearls and spit curls, she is a vision of loveliness. It is an elegant sepia-toned portrait, but sepia is for Dorothy's Kansas and not the glorious world beyond the rainbow. For that, you do not always need color, but it does require a radiant smile, and this my grandmother possessed her whole life. It animated not only her but everyone around her, and its wellspring was a seemingly irrepressible optimism and unremitting love.
This second photograph captures it perfectly. It was taken by her husband Bob, who took up new interests from time to time, one of which was photography. He built a darkroom and made enlargements on card stock. Most are underexposed or have badly faded, but a bit of digital manipulation brings the image and the delighted smile of my grandmother to life. Here she is, newly married and deeply in love.
Although there would be years in her life when it was hard to keep on the sunny side - alone at home with three little girls while her husband was in the Pacific during WWII; losing him a piece at a time to Alzheimer's; overcoming alcohol addiction - she never lost the sweetness and the light. She took comfort in a favorite quotation that the family deeply associates with her;
How I miss her, and how I hope she is in that place in which she firmly believed, with her beloved Bob, over the rainbow.