With the recent posting of rarely-seen photos of Melinda on her birthday, I got a Facebook message, then an envelope in the mail from Melinda's Godmother Marie with a precious cargo - long ago photos of Melinda and her siblings from their school days!
While Melinda has a bookshelf full of photo albums, we never sat around looking at them, and one of these trips to "Ketelsen East" I'll have to work up the nerve to sneak a peak. So I've never seen her as a young girl as shown here. It isn't until the most recent, taken when she was 16 that she even resembles the woman I came to know. Her siblings too are presented here - I never met her older brother Dick shown here at left - he died just as Melinda and I were seriously dating. While I knew Susan pretty well (shown at right), she also died just over 3 years ago.
Only her sister Maj (Mary Alice Johnson!), shown at left, remains and thrives and connects me to my beloved Melinda. By the way, all three of these photographs are labeled from 1964. Unfortunately, I don't know their birth years, so don't know their ages from these images, but they are a great-looking group of kids! Jumping forward in time - I'm guessing about 2005 to 2006, is a group shot of the Johnson girls that Marie also provided. I present them all here as ancient artifacts from another time.
But the Melinda photos that are the little gems. While unlabeled, I suspect the photo at left is the earliest, perhaps when she was 6 - looking like a candidate for Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz!
My guess is that the next shot in the sequence is at right - it is labeled 1963, so it was taken when she was 7 years old. I would have been hard-pressed to guess that this little beauty would grow into Melinda - not much resemblance yet - to me, anyway!
Next in the sequence is shown at left, and is now starting to resemble My Girl! While unlabeled date-wise, I'm guessing she must be about 10 or 11. Interestingly, in a cursive note on the back of the photo to "Aunt Marie and Uncle Bill", she signs her name Melynda!
Finally, in the last photo labeled 1972 when she was 16 (at right), you will all agree the Melinda we all know is shining through!
While I love seeing these photos, they also bring a sense of melancholy. Photos of school kids always show such potential and promise for the future! Not that Melinda didn't accomplish a huge amount in her life - making a real difference in hundreds of lives of the preemie infants that came through her care. But because she left us so early, there was so much more to do! Still, I'm glad "Aunt Marie", whom I've never met, chose to share them with me - thank you so much!
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