Generations


Photo blog day 164, January 24, 2011

My grandfather was an avid photographer.  He had his own dark room and always wanted the best camera he could afford.  Unfortunately, by the time I was old enough to know any better, he had moved on to a different hobby.  As a child I used to pass through my grandparent’s basement and look inside the “darkroom” trying to figure out what it was.  It was mostly full of boxes and storage items but I never knew why someone would build a room in the middle of the basement with no walls and a black curtain for a door.  When I was told it was a dark room, I remember thinking “well, that’s because there are no windows!” As I flitted through my childhood my memories of my grandfather were of him holding a hammer, or a drill, or pencil and paper.  He was a craftsman, he loved carpentry.  Having built at least three houses that I knew of his passion for woodwork grew and he pulled away from photography. By the time I was 12 or 13 he was building furniture for all the grandchildren.  I never heard him talk about photography.  My grandfather taught me so many things, how to hammer a nail, how to measure wood (measure twice, cut once), how to use carpentry equipment like band saws and belt sanders.  He taught me how to prepare and stain wood (most of which I have forgotten) but mostly he taught me that you have to have patience.  Wait for the glue to dry before you sand it down, wait for the first coat of stain to set before you add another.  I can’t say that I have applied that same patience to anything else in my life but in those quiet afternoons listening to Ella, Bing, Nat, and Thelonius Monk belt out the tunes on the AM radio it was easy to let the buzz of being an adolescent go and just enjoy my time with my grandfather.

My grandfather passed away when I was just shy of 17.  I visited him in the hospital several times and always enjoyed my visits with him.  I don’t think when I went to see him there that it ever occurred to me that he wouldn’t be there as I grew up. Today would have been my grandfathers 87th birthday.  Having a birthday so close to his (mine was 2 days ago) only solidified my relationship with him further.  For several years after his death I frequently would have dreams about him.  In some he would talk to me about things I was doing but mostly he was just there, quietly sitting, patiently listening.  The year I had my son I bought my first SLR camera.  A few months later I had another dream about my grandfather.  This time we were out taking photos together.  I was frustrated because I wasn’t learning fast enough.  He paused and told me to slow down.  He then said that if it helped I could use his first camera.  I woke before he could hand it to me.  I called my aunt a few days later to tell her about the dream and ask if any of his cameras were still around.  They were and she brought me the box of his photography and film equipment.  I can’t say for sure whether any of the camera’s were the one I saw in my dream but it didn’t matter.  I had a piece of my grandfather that I didn’t know existed.  My aunt says Grandpa is smiling down from Heaven knowing that one of his grandchildren shares a passion for photography as he did.  Happy Birthday Grandpa, we miss you.

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3 comments on “Generations”

  1. Such a touching tribute to your grandfather…really beautiful.

  2. thanks jess, love mom

  3. happy birthday jess


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