The photo is at the left, the woman's name is written on the back and does match a name in my tree. She was a great-great-grandmother on my husband's side. Someone we've never seen and didn't even know existed until about a year ago. The photo was found in an old album discovered in the process of moving.
I was so eager to see the photo; the anticipation was astounding. And when I did open it, my first thought was, It's not her. My second thought was, That's odd. Why would I think that? I didn't know this woman. We have no photos of her. No hand-me-down history. No knowledge AT ALL other than what I've found in documentation. Nonetheless, I had formed a mental image of what she should look like. Even stranger, I didn't think I had done that until I saw this photo. I realized that in my vision, the woman had long straight hair; didn't smile much (I guess based on what appeared to be a rather hard, short life); and should have been shorter.
Thats pretty specific stuff for someone I have no clue about! I have since proven that the lady in this photo is NOT the same as the one named in my family tree. Although oddly enough she was married to a man (2nd wife I believe) that one of my relatives was also married to(!)
The lesson of this photo was 2-fold: 1) our imaginations will fill in what we can't see, and 2) we've all made some assumptions along the way that we had no right to.
To me, the woman in my tree was frowning and unhappy for most of her life. A photo of a smiling woman rocked my unfair perception for the better. My husband's great, great, grandmother may have been an extremely happy person, full of life and love. But I didn't let her be that personality. She had to fit my mold. Not anymore. Even though this photo isn't Her, it's given Her new life for me :)
Copyright (c) 2013, Family at Your Fingertips, Jodi Bash