In My Grandfather's House

T.J. Kirkpatrick

It wasn’t until my grandfather passed away that I realized how little I knew about him and much of my extended family. I grew up disconnected from them, not by design but the simple circumstance of living on opposite coasts. My aunts and uncles were not truly known to me until, as an adult, I began reaching out to connect with them. I came to know myself as I learned more of my family, and losing my grandfather lay bare how little I know of my own history. This work stems from my continuing efforts to connect with family, with the camera as the means to take notes or at times providing cover in an emotional moment.

I began by photographing family gatherings. Then, when it looked like my grandfather was struggling with illness, I spent time with him and my grandmother at their home on what turned out to be his final day. As the family began the process of clearing out and selling my grandparents’ home, I searched the details of their house for revelations about my grandfather. I found that he was much more goofy than the man I knew, with a lighthearted and unassuming sense of humor. He was also deeply faithful and thankful for the blessings that had graced his life.

In exploring family ties and the physical remains of the world my grandfather created I reexamine my memories of him and reflect on my role in the family. My grandfather’s house was full of questions but some of the answers still elude me.

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