This is Louise Laing, born September 13, 1948 (she’s about 15 months in the photo) probably in Victoria, BC. Is this not the sweetest.

She comes to us courtesy of the grandmother I never met, in a box of photos she prepared for her adoptive daughter, Muriel Rose Smith (my mother) before she died of cancer when my mother was 19.

The box has travelled with me over the years in the boxes of family memories that I seldom looked at.

It holds the most information I have about my mother who was killed in a motor vehicle accident when I was just 20. Thirty-five years ago.

She was looking for the answers to questions after discovering during an estate settlement that she was adopted. A rather rude awakening I imagine. Mother started life with an incredible family that included the grandfather I knew and loved, Emerson Lincoln Smith. Grandfather owned the local ship chandlers, McQuade’s. He was an ace pilot and flew in both great wars. His wife, Dorothy Eileen Smith (nee MacAdam) is the woman I’m getting to know as I undertake to digitize the better of the photos.

I feel like I’ve been channelling the woman I never got to call Grandmother – as I transfer her notes from the backs of a good portion of the photos … each photo offers a look into a special woman’s life. She loved gardening, trains, travel and her adopted daughter.

It’s an emotional journey for sure, but like my mother I still look for answers to the questions I can’t ask her. Some I’ll never know. I’m going to have to learn to be okay with that, because in the end – I have been blessed to have my life benefit so directly from theirs.

Boxes and boxes … this will be my gift to my daughter, sisters, brothers, nieces and my largely extended family of steps and halfs. To all those who come after and care to know.

Life may have torn us apart but I will always hold you in my heart.