An Anniversary Ode to the Ancestors

Today marks the day thirteen years ago that I tripped off down the aisle with Steve.

We forgot this morning. And it wasn’t important (that we forgot). Is that bad? That we don’t think it’s terribly important? I called him and asked him the date today. He replied it was the 6th…. cue hasty scrambling to check device calendars, then a muffled “Oh bugger… it’s the 7th… happy anniversary!” and we hung up in fits of giggles, promising to go out for dinner.

Thank God for neighbours who are willing to let our little Lollypop curl up in her dressing gown on a lounge chair while we duck out for an intimate dinner for two beside a crackling fire at a restaurant somewhere near home.

With some free time this morning at my disposal *jaw-dropping moment* I decided to dig out a few family wedding photographs. Just for the fun of it. Just to see how they did it “back in the day.” I wonder if any of them paid attention to anniversaries. I suppose they must have. I bet they didn’t feel the pressure to run out to the local Woolies to grab a box of Roses to say “thankyou-very-much-for-being-my-missus”.

Do you think they had to cope with impulse buying? Do they look like they did? Did any of your ancestors have all the latest and/or lavish it on each other that you know of?


Here is the 1920-something wedding of my great-grandmother’s little brother, George (second from right), and his wife, Enid (seated to his left). I’m just waiting for confirmation from a cousin, but I think that’s my great-grandmother, Alice, sitting next to her brother (centre). Their parents (my great-great-grandfather Henry and g-g-grandmother Alice Mary) are on the left there in the front row.

They were missing a son and brother that day.

21 year-old Frank (left) was killed in action in France, July 1st, 1916.

Life goes on.

It’s a comforting, bittersweet thought, isn’t it?


Henry and Alice were married in 1885 when they were 23 and 24 (she was slightly older). By the time they died, their marriage had lasted 54 impressive years.

My great-grandmother Alice Leonora was born the year after they married and was the eldest of their six children. Recently, I blogged a photo of Alice (she was in her wedding dress, would you believe – take a look at it!) beside her husband, ELB. The baby in that photo, my grandfather, Edward Kennett, grew up to marry this pretty lady… yet another Alice, just to saturate the tree with Alices:

My maternal grandparents, April 16th, 1938

I look at the faces in these photos and feel slightly voyeuristic, realising each and every person in them is now deceased. They had no idea what year would mark their expiry dates on their family tree/s. But I do. It’s a humbling honour. I feel a somewhat dutiful responsibility to acknowledge each of them in turn, which more than anything is why I am getting around to them one by one.

I understand that a life lived and died before my time is not a life less worthy or unimportant. My girl proved the profoundity of that – she is forever going to be “merely” a name on our family tree to so many, and it is why I give special attention to the names with the very briefly lived lives on mine as I discover them.

I am standing on the shoulders of these ancestors. I love getting to know and love them…. If you didn’t already know that.

And the importance of it all that I feel I am compelled to pass on to my daughter. Just in case she ever cares to know, or wants to discover them too.

So this is but another breadcrumb for my little Gretel, to help her trace her way back home.

Break your mama's back…. Steve & me, May 7th, 1999


Side note: The deep connection I feel with my paternal side is not lacking…. I just don’t have many photos of them, and certainly no wedding shots have been uncovered as yet. One day, perhaps, as my father keeps conducting his search.


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