The Picture I Wish I Had Taken… Mamaw Jean

It shouldn’t be a secret to anyone who knows me that I love photography. The art, the storytelling, the feeling you get when you’ve captured the perfect shot, it’s all very enchanting to me. I haven’t picked up my actual camera very much in the past couple of years except for a few special requests. However, the ideas still come and I try to make them happen if I can with my trusty iPhone. Unfortunately, there are a few things that I wish I could photograph but am unable too for various reasons so I thought I’d share those ideas here. This might turn into a thing and I’ll do a series if that’s the case but you never know with my sporadic (and sometimes spastic) writing.

Today’s subject is my grandmother, Jean, who passed away in February. I’ve been missing her a lot recently and pictures keep running through my mind of memories I have with her before she got sick.

Mamaw was a master at baking. Not only were her cakes and pies delicious but they were beautiful to boot. She would make these elaborate wedding cakes with tiers and plastic staircases to other cakes and lit fountains bubbling a sample of the punch. It was the 90’s y’all. You were not married right if you didn’t have a cake like that. Sadly, I did not inherit the talent of making pretty cakes but she did teach me how to make them delicious. I remember one Christmas we were baking up a storm and she gave me her coveted coconut cake recipe. I’ll carry it with me to my grave so good luck prying it out of me until then.


The picture I wish I had is the one I remember in my mind. It looks similar to the one above but she’s smiling while scolding me over something I said (it happened a lot).  She’s still very focused on her task of domesticating her free spirited granddaughter and looking at the cake but she’s smiling.

I wish I had a picture of her in her reclining chair, deep in thought as she studied her Sunday School lesson as she did every Saturday night. Her unwavering faith and love for the Lord are an inspiration for me.

I would be remiss if I forgot to include a picture of Mamaw surrounded by all of her grandkids playing a rowdy game of Uno to my wishlist. I often gave her reason to transition from Uno Queen to Judge Jean with my shenanigans in these games and well… in every other situation. Since no one needs to see that, we’ll pretend I was an angel of a child and leave any photographic evidence that states otherwise in the burn pile.

You should have seen her sitting behind her big oak desk at Helping Hands everyday running the charity and interviewing the toughest of cases. If you didn’t know her you would think she was mean or hard-hearted but she was really quite the opposite. I would love to have a picture of that faint smile that crept across her face when she had granted the request of a grateful soul in need just so everyone would always remember who she was beneath that tough exterior.

Finally, I would love to have a photo of a stolen love glance between her & Papaw at the dinner table, surrounded by their children & grandchildren. Most of the time she was getting onto him for something he did or said (I had to get it from somewhere) but there would always be those moments.

These would only scratch the surface of a memory album dedicated to the feisty, kind, smart, and always fashionable Martha Jean but they would certainly be a gift never forgotten.

What do you wish you had a picture of? Take the ones you can and write down the ones you can’t.

*This idea is not original to me. At one point in time I ran across a community blog based on a similar idea. I believe it was called Unphotographable. If it still exists, you should check it out.*