I was 22 and still in school when I photographed my grandfather in his lazy boy chair, reflecting on the statue of Hebe, goddess of beauty and youth, dislodged from its wall space in their Westmoreland, Richmond Road living room, a family heirloom ready for movers to pick up and ship off to my aunt in Portland, Oregon. My grandparents were moving out of the house they had lived in for 50 years, to a modern apartment on Central Avenue where they would live out their lives, for a couple more years.
Fiberglass patterned curtains, clocks with different times, Hummel figurines on the TV, a bin of magazines by the lazy boy chair accented the 50-year old patina of their household bliss.
In the background, above Hebe’s hand, hung my mother’s oil portrait of my grandfather sitting in his rose garden. I think that I now must be close to the same age as my grandfather was then, when my mother painted his portrait.
Nine years ago, when we moved to our house in Toledo on the edge of Wildwood Preserve, I liked to think that this is what my grandfather would have loved, if sun was not a necessity. He was a rose expert; actually he was the first rosarian in Toledo. He had the most beautiful gardens. Roses need the sun, but we moved to a shady woodland Shangri-la. After 27 years in New York City, I confess that I have developed no green thumb. When I work in the garden, I like to think of my sunny grandfather helping me along.