.we traveled to ohio in september for my grandpa's 80th surprise birthday party. we had no intentions on going back to ohio for a while, but when i heard about papaw's party that my family was planning it just kept festering inside me that i needed to be there. this man means so much to me; i can't even begin to put it into words.
.we celebrated at "sligo" which is a very special place to our family. my grandmother grew up on this farm and later my grandparents built a house there where we would all gather and spend time together. as a kid i spent a lot of time at sligo; picking berries with my grandma, playing with my friend next store, having birthday party slumber parties, and the most story book thanksgivings you could ever imagine. i have so many memories there and i probably haven't been back in about 10 years since my grandparents sold the land to the family that lived next door to our farm who became close family friends.
.there are just so many things i could say about my grandpa, about this place, about this trip. i'm so glad that i went. i had to be there for him, for my family, for me and also for my dad. i knew that my dad would love that i made it and i felt close to him with my presence. my papaw is truly the glue that holds my family together. he is a strong and gentle man. he has always been the sweet grandpa to give us hugs and call me, "gillian claire". he was also there for my dad in the best of ways until the very end and he was there for me in the hardest moments of my life just over a year ago. when i couldn't bear to make decisions and process the pain, my grandpa was there for me, as usual. steady and calm as ever. telling me that hard things happen in life but that we have to make those difficult choices and keep waking up and going. i'm so glad that i got these special portraits that preserve a piece of this wonderful man that i'm lucky to call "papaw" forever. <3