60 years | bradenton photographer

Let me say that again in case you didn’t read it right.  60 years.  60(!!!!!) years!!!  My Mema and Grandaddy have been married 60 years this October 21st.  They are the parents of 5 children (in 6.5 years… they must be crazy).  They are my mom’s parents.  They are attached to most of my childhood memories.

I don’t make assumptions about people’s childhoods, but mine was FILLED with family.  Since they have 5 children, the number of grandchildren is in the 20s, and I think I lost the official count.  Suffice it to say every holiday is a HUGE event.  Picture “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” without the lamb on the spit in the front yard.

My grandparents have always called me their 6th child.  My parents were married when they were very young and so I spent a lot of time in Grandaddy’s lap as a young child.  He used to manage the General Cinema here in town (where the TJ Maxx is now).  So between watching Captain Kangaroo in his lap in the mornings while my mom was in college, to playing with the typewriter in his office at the cinema and having permission to eat all the Hershey bars I wanted while my parents worked the cinema… I have been blessed.

Mema is a gifted seamstress and many of my childhood clothes were handmade by her, my other grandmother and by my mom.  She made my 8th grade graduation dress.  She altered my tutu’s.  She sewed my pointe shoes.  Grandaddy would pick me up from school, take me to get some dinner and drive me to dance.  Then pick me up from dance, drive me across town to my home and then drive back across town to his house, so I could continue dance.

My mom was their baby.  Literally, she was the baby of the family.  Growing up, you always know that your grandparents are your mom’s parents.  That’s a given.  But, about a month before my mom passed, that lesson hit me hard.  We got to the point with mom that someone was always by her side.  Even if she was sleeping.  She often awoke a little disoriented and a comforting face being there in the chair made her transition time out of the fog a little less.  I’d been sitting in the chair next to her bed watching her sleep.  Mema came in and tapped me on the shoulder to say she’d take over.  I got up and Mema sat down in the chair.  I started to walk out of the room and turned around.  There was my mom sleeping in her bed.  Laying on her side snuggling her pillows (the same way I sleep).  And there was Mema.  Sitting in the chair.  Her head resting on her hand that was propped on the arm of the chair.  Mema was staring at my mom.  It was then it hit me.  Mema is my mom’s mom.  My mom is Mema’s baby.  That never goes away.  The want to watch your child sleep and make sure they are alright never changes.  I walked out of the room with tears streaming down my face.  I was about to lose my mom, but she was about to lose her baby.  Different losses, but no more or less powerful. That was a big moment for me.

When I found out about their 60th wedding anniversary (and requisite family shin-dig at Aunt Ellen’s this weekend), I knew I needed to take photos of my grandparents.  This was a quick session in my backyard (special thanks to my husband for always keeping the backyard nice looking… wish I could say the same for the kitchen, but he didn’t marry me for my housekeeping abilities, that much I know).  My goal was to give them a few “standard” type portraits, and to capture the essence of Mema and Grandaddy.  I hope you enjoy.

Mema thinks the shot below is full of age spots and bruises.  I see love in those hands.  Most of my family agrees with me.  What do you think?

I shot these with my 85mm 1.8, and I had to back up a ways for this shot.  I heard Grandaddy mutter something to Mema (in that low booming voice of his) and I don’t want to know what he said, but it made her chuckle.  Love the sound of laughter, and love even more the emotion and connection it created.

This is a recreation of their wedding picture of them about to start their recessional.  Setting is different, but the love is the same.

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