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Snapshot: Janet

Rusty returned last week from a two-month trip west. He left in June bound for Arizona and a visit to his brother Dave's new place in western Arizona, just over the border from Nevada. One of the purposes of that get together was for them to go through a box of old photos that Dave (a bit of a packrat) finally uncovered in the moving & unpacking.

The photos belonged to their mother, Janet, who took her own life in 1978. When the boys cleaned out her house after her death, it was a job that just needed to get done. Things like photos were relegated to storage, which is where they've been for the past 40+ years.

Rusty was so excited to see these old family photos again! He took a few snaps with his phone and sent them to me while he was there, and brought some more home for scanning. After he departed Arizona for points in California, Dave uncovered more photos and documents! Rusty suggested that before too long we take a trip out there together, and we just confirmed flights, car & hotel for an early November (birthday!) visit, which will also include a visit (my first) to the Grand Canyon.

Anyway, it's been a bit of a nut house over here and we finally sat down over the weekend to look at the photos Rusty brought back.

This one.


I'd hastily edited (her face is in deep shadow in the original photo) and posted on Instagram, but have taken a bit more time here with the dodging & burning... and looking.

I didn't even notice the knitting or Rusty's brother in the playpen, at first; Kate pointed those out the other day! Originally thought the photo was taken at the beach (her favorite place to be), but in considering what those dark blips at the top of the photo might be, I now realize that it's more likely in the backyard -- that's laundry on the line (very likely diapers)!

I didn't meet Rusty until 1983, so obviously I never had a chance to meet Janet. I always like to think that we'd have gotten along -- especially because I know she didn't get along at all with Rusty's first wife -- and he always thought that we would have, too. I've decided that this photo is undeniable proof!

  • She was a knitter! I never knew that before, though I did know she had a crafty streak and liked to make things.
  • She was a smoker! She was a chain-smoker, in truth, and is the #1 reason why her sons have never smoked. Even though I've been quit for 14+ years, I can still relate to putting down my knitting for a smoke break.
  • Laundry on the line!

She had quite a colorful life and there are mysteries to be solved -- investigated further, at the very least! I'm so looking forward to our trip out west in a few months!

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255



I'm sorry to hear about Janet's suicide, but that is one great photo. I also can't help but think that you two would have gotten along famously, bonding over your long straight needles! I discovered a few maternal mysteries when we cleaned out my mother's things; I'm just not sure I'm ready (or ever will be!) to investigate further. I'm glad you're heading to AZ in November!


That's a wonderful picture and I bet it makes Rusty's heart happy to think of you and his mom sitting and knitting together. (But not smoking!) I think your trip there in November will be wonderful.


What a great picture! I think Rusty looks like her!


I love this photo - it is wonderful! But, what a bittersweet story. And, I agree - Rusty looks very much like her!


What a great photo - Janet was beautiful. I, too, bet you two would have gotten on fabulously. I can't wait to see more pics maybe after your trip out west in November. And The Grand Canyon! I've been a couple of times - what a fabulous, amazing place.


What a wonderful photo! I'm so glad Rusty has access to his family photos again! I'm also really excited for your November trip. I have never visited the Grand Canyon either (Tom has; with many wonderful memories), but after recently watching the Ken Burns series on National Parks, I am eager to get there. In fact, we've been talking about a trip within the year . . .

Robby H.

What a time capsule that photo is. I feel like I see a bit of a couple of your girls in that face, too. I think people had more mysteries or secrets in those days. Such a different time, and yet not in so many ways.


Thanks for sharing this emotional discovery trip for Rusty. His mother looked beautiful in the photo. So sad that he lost her too young. And about the Grand Canyon, I went last year for the first time (I’m 69!). It was so much more than I could ever have imagined. I took one look and burst into tears. So worth the effort and time to go. A real spiritual experience for a non- spiritual person. Enjoy!


What a treasure!

Robin F

How wonderful for Rusty and Dave to have those treasured looks at their past. You and Janet might have had a lovely relationship as DIL and MIL. Enjoy your trip out west. I've been to the area but never seen the Grand Canyon. It's on my bucket list.


To finally "meet" Janet and find you two had so much in common, well, wow! What a heartbreaking circumstance for Rusty. I'm so sorry he had to go through this pain. Having you by his side when he returns will be wonderful for him (and you). You're going to be blown away by the Grand Canyon. I hope your days there are beautiful and sunny!

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