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One Photo; One Story: Alice and Lily.

A box of photographs rests on a shelf in my garage. There are thousands of snapshots mixed together from four or five generations of my family.

Each snapshot, one millisecond of someone’s life directly linked to mine. I know them all. Some photos don’t involve me directly, they are important only to the one behind the camera or the one’s posing or candid in front of the lens.

I know the characters; I love them all. If I open the box I need to be prepared for the journey each photo will take me through.

Some photos are a burst of joy, some bitter sweet, and some a new discovery. In these photo’s you can see a moment you wish you were a part of. They can also trigger a hidden emotion.

Like this photo: Alice and Lily.

It looks like a moment of silliness or they are singing an old irish tune after a “bit of the bash”, usually a shot of Jameson. I see them singing “Danny Boy”, “Sally Garden”, or perhaps they are singing the Clancy Brothers song “Red Haired Mary”, which they would have sung to my mother, Mary. She had the longest red hair in the South Bronx in the 1950’s.

What ever is happening in the seconds that this photo was taken, I wish I could be there right now. Live this moment of joy, and see it happening.

On the left, my grandmother, Lily, from Cahir, County Tipperary; on the right, my great aunt Alice, my grandfather’s sister from Dublin City.

Immigrants from the old country settling in New York City to raise their children and find better lives.

I can hear their brogues and melodious voices; deep in my memory.

Lily, Alice, and my mother Mary, long since gone now; I pray they are resting in peace. Their worldly struggles behind them, the human condition reconciled and their souls, light and free. One more look at the photo and I close the box till I am ready for another journey.

And I hear the song in my heart that perhaps they are singing.

“for you shall bend and tell me that you love me

and I will sleep in peace, until you come to me”.

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