I constantly have a running list of things I want to photograph burning a hole in my mind. It never gets smaller. No matter how many things I finish shooting on the list, another one jumps on, making it the never ending list of ideas.
For months, years really, one of the items on my list has been to photograph both of my grandmothers in the spaces they live in. Details of the homes that hold so many memories and feelings for me and I know other members of the family. The way it feels to see the front door. The shapes and colors and light that holds everything in place.
I know how special it is to have had such an amazing relationship with both of my grandmothers. And to have them both living while I start my own family is a treasure. One that I don’t want to waste. So finally this last September I was able to squeeze in a few hours between other shoots to visit them in their homes and finally make these shoots happen. I would have liked days photographing each of them, but with a newborn and toddler at home one precious hour is what I had.
This is my Grandmother Mary Lou. We call her “Gram”.
Before she lived here, her parents lived here. I would visit my Grandma and Grandpa Great on Sundays. We would run up to the phone to dial to be buzzed in. Then up the elevator to 7th heaven (and when you leave you go down to _elL). The elevator would open and the door to the apartment would always be opened and smiley wrinkly people would be waiting for you. When my Great Grandparents passed away and after my Grandfather Thurston passed away, my Grandma moved back from La Jolla, California. She had lived there with my grandfather for 15yrs. She moved back into this gorgeous condo overlooking the Salt Lake valley, adding another layer to the memories the space holds.
She grew up on Oahu and I love being able to see “Hawaii” when I am in her space. Most of the floral artwork in her home was done by her niece Jenny Jenkins Christensen. She is barefoot most of the time she is home. I love this, as my number one life goal is to never have to wear shoes.
Oh how I love this women. She has always been the best listener and still to this day can remember by name my childhood friends. She always stayed up to date on all the relationships I was in and in her heart of heart has always wanted happiness and love for each of her grandchildren. She is one of the most accepting women I know. She loves everyone and never once in my life have I felt less loved by her, even when I have made dumb mistakes. She loves me the same, even with my flaws. I grew up loving to shop with her at the naval bases. She taught me the art of making an “eggy with a hat on top”. The beds in her guest bedroom always had those bumpy mattress pads. She has always had a thing for Elvis and we would watch Blue Hawaii with her as we slept at the foot of her bed.
Her and my Grandpa had 3 kids (my father is the oldest). During the first 15yrs of their marriage he was gone for 7 of those while he served in the Marines. She moved with him and her family all over the world. 7yrs away from her husband….raising kids on her own and having to make new friends every couple of years. So so impressive.
I could go on and on about how wonderful she is and how much she means to me. She loves family and photos and being with us. And I love being with her. I feel so grateful to have had so many one on one moments with her and she has deeply blessed my life. I hope one day I have a granddaughter that feels the way about me that I feel for her.
Gram, thank you for letting me take some photos of you and your home. Thank you for creating a space I have always felt comfortable and welcome in. I love you so much.