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Oma Kardashian

I shared the photos sent from my father’s side of my family with my only cousin and aunt from my mother’s side of the family. 

My mother’s mother was in several shots. 

We have built up a wealth of mythology about our Oma (German for nanna). She definitely was a classic. A unique woman, she had an illegitimate child (possibly half Jewish) before the war and then married and had my uncle (now deceased) and my mother. My mother has written here how Oma made their experiences seem like an adventure and made sure they did not go without. 

Oma moved to Australia as a divorced woman in her 50s without any English. She gained employment. She learnt English and ended up able to do crosswords in German and English. She was fiercely independent. 

Now, with the photos we’ve discovered a new trait. And given her a new nickname. A nickname that couldn’t come in time. There are now so many Omas in our family. My mother. My aunt. My cousin. My sister. All Omas now. 

The nickname came as a result of the poses she pulled in the photos with the English family. 

Here she is. Classic Kardashian pout, in her colour coordinated outfit. She wouldn’t let the Pommie family outshine her. 


And not for her to be hidden in the back row. She would out front in a statement pose. 


Then my aunt and mother shared the story of my sister’s christening. At that time in Australia women still had to wear a hat to church. So Oma went out and bought a hat. Of course it had to be a hat bigger than anyone else’s. Of course she had to outshine the English. A tall, white hat. A look-at-me hat. 


Oma Kardashian. Gone over 25 years ago. Still making us laugh. 

Who’s that?

A cousin who lives overseas recently sent me some photos that she had unearthed from her mother’s (my father’s sister) collection. 

Some people in the photos were instantly recognisable. That must be dad. That must be dad and his siblings. That must be nan when she was young. Look at her gloves – what the groover she was. 

That must be dad’s family at the seaside in Wales. I mean who visits the beach (we don’t do seasides) in Australia dressed up like that? And rides donkeys?


But who is that? And that? And this little round thing?


My father died when I was a teen. He left us years earlier. I don’t have much to do with his side of the family for multiple reasons. Even if I did, there are not many people who would know who the people in the photos are. My aunt is 80 and has Alzheimer’s. There’s only one other sibling still alive. She is significantly younger and may not know the people either. 

Then I helped my mother with a couple of entries on her blog. We uploaded some photos. Again of people I didn’t know. 

All this got me thinking. What is the point of family photos?

Are they just for those who take them, and their immediate family, to recollect or celebrate events in their lives? To act as decorations around the house?

Are they records for family history? 

Are they for future historical and cultural references?

Should we keep old photos? Should we bother keeping all our own photos? What now that we take thousands on our phones? Should we treat photos as ephemeral?

Is it better to have one photo with a record of who is in it and where it was taken and other contextual information than thousands of unknown people and places?

Now that I know who some of the people are in my mother’s photos, the photos mean more to me. But will my offspring care?

 

In the beginning

The trials and tribulations and vents and plans of my life can be summed up by that annoying phrase first world problem. 

Really I am thankful my problems are so minor. Going to bed at a decent hour. Decluttering my house. Finding time to read. Travelling. 

Pop over to my mother’s blog, The Girl from the North. She’s posted on her memories of bombings during WWII. 

I wonder how we’d come out of the same situation? Definitely changed.