Elver turns 90
Elver just visited Seattle this weekend so my family and I were able to celebrate this landmark year for him. I knew I wanted to capture his portrait.
I don’t remember a time when Grandpa Elver wasn’t in my life; he and my grandmother visited often from their Montana home. To me, he has the the gift of eternal youth because he’s just never changed while I just continue to get older.
As a child, he was different than my nurturing parents who were teachers for a living. He worked at a paper mill and was a farmer & mechanic in his off-time. I viewed him as rough and tough around the edges. If we were cotton he was worn leather. But it was always clear he loved spending time with us. We’ve played countless games of cards with him, and his enjoyment of making friendly-yet-consistent jokes at our expense never gets tiresome. His course, raspy laugh that is like no one else, and it always will proceed these one-liners. And we’ve always been able to joke back at him and he never minded. He’s never seemed to mind a lot of things and that has subtly taught me to not sweat the small stuff.
In 2010, I was honored but saddened to be with him during the passing of his wife, my grandmother Bonnie whom we loved. At her memorial my wife and I saw in his eyes the depth of love and commitment that a 60-year marriage brings. Through my tears, it made me so proud to know him and to be connected to him by blood. This mourning experience burrowed maturity in me and I came to closer gripes with my childhood being in my past. Yet this example of what life-long committment looks like soothed the loss.
Out of the portrait session it was pretty difficult to narrow down to one, (I’ve found this can happen a lot when you photograph someone personally close.) In one portrait I wanted to capture Elver’s smile through his age and wisdom. In the second I wanted to present his subtle curiosity and whimsy. He was an extremely subject to photograph.
And speaking of maturing, I feel that it’s appropriate that I’ve been in the midst of maturing as a photographer and now my grandfather is part of that process.
So I hope through my writing or photography, you have a closer picture of Elver; who he is and continues to be. And if you want to call him your Grandfather too, I’m sure he won’t mind.