My grandmother immediately dropped her head in her hands and filled them with tears. I’d never seen her so emotional and I certainly didn’t expect it! We sat there and just cried together. I get emotional just thinking about now. It was one of the best days and proudest moments of my life–to be able to do that for her.
Some of the fondest memories I have involve discussing family history with my grandmothers. I learned so much from them. In 2000, I had several conversations with my paternal grandmother, Ruby Mckinley Willis Jenkins regarding her father whom I knew little about. Montgomery Mckinley was born in 1901 in Saint Francisville, Louisiana. She told me that he died around the age of 40 of a massive heart attack. Ruby said she was 17 years old at the time. Hearing this made me feel so bad for her–for a daddy’s girl to lose her father at such a young age. I began to understand the tough exterior she displayed her whole life was shaped by this life altering event.
I asked her if she had a picture of him. She asked me to look for a cardboard box in her bedroom on the closet room floor. To my astonishment, she had A TON of old photos!!!!! I gently asked her if I could scan her precious photos to preserve them. Being her only grandchild–HER BABY…how could she deny me? I scanned all of them including the only picture of her father known to exist.
The picture was damaged & deteriorating, but I’m pretty proficient with Photoshop so I attempted to restore it. Mother’s Day was coming up so I decided to present the restored copies as framed gifts–one in color and one in black & white.
These are the before-and-after pictures of Montgomery Mckinley: