A few years ago, I was checking cnn.com several times a day from my computer; that was back around 2003, before I started writing my column and books. There was quite a bird flu concern at that time, and that's when news media started saying that we're overdue for another big worldwide pandemic.
I'm the only person alive who ever thinks about my great aunt Pauline; that's because she died in 1919 at the age of 26. She was a casualty of the Spanish Flu. This flu was notorious for hitting the young and healthy ones; not the infirm, aged, or infants as one would expect.
My grandmother told me about her sister a long, long time ago when I was growing up. Her sister Pauline was a beautiful, vivacious, and popular woman. She was a musician; she played the piano, as I did. Maybe that is why my grandmother thought of telling me about her. It must have been the piano (it wasn't the beautiful and popular part lol).
Nana told me that Pauline was so loved by everyone; so much fun, and so accomplished in the many womanly arts of the day. She could do beautiful handiwork. Nana gave me the only picture that exists of Pauline and I've always had it on my walls. Pauline was a special young woman. She got the Spanish flu (then there was no such thing as politically incorrect names of diseases) and in just a matter of days, she was gone.
Pauline's mother's maiden name was Tanner. That's where my name Tanner comes from. Sarah Tanner had a dashing love story of her own with an elopement and a boat ride across some body of water.... I'd better call my cousin in Austin and get the rest of that story before it gets forgotten forever...
Pauline had many suitors but had not yet chosen a life partner. She died before marrying or having children. Not to have married by the age of about 26 in those days was rare. She lived at home and had by all accounts a happy life. I wish my grandmother were still around to tell me more; and I'd write it all down. (I wish my grandmother were still around, period! I would love to spend time with her now that I could so much better appreciate it.)
Mary Pauline Pollock, now 90 years later, you are not forgotten as long as the cyberspace and my memory holds out... Thank you for the beautiful picture that has inspired me for many decades.