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My dad and I spent about six weeks configuring and coordinating my trip to Pittsburgh to surprise my mom over Easter weekend. My parents have been going up to Western New York (Buffalo-area; Depew) every other weekend all year to go through my grandma’s house/empty it out so it can be sold. I was hoping I’d be there one weekend they decided to go up cos I hadn’t been to WNY in years and didn’t know when I’d ever go back, and I wanted to see my grandma’s house one last time and help out as much as I could. It worked out perfectly–my mom was super surprised and happy to see me :) A huge bonus of the trip that I didn’t know until a few days before I left was that Jenae was on the same flight as I was to and from Pittsburgh, so I got to spend half of my flight each direction hanging out and catching up with her. It was seriously one of the coolest things.

I was only at my parents’ house outside Pittsburgh for a few hours; as soon as my mom came home from work, the three of us drove up to NY. Like many people of her generation, my grandma kept a lot, and we came across so much fascinating stuff in her house, which she lived in since she and my grandpa had it built in 1967 (when my mom was nine!) until shortly before she passed away this past December. It’s taken my family (really, my mom and my aunt) countless hours to make the progress they have because there is so much to go through, so much to read and learn about my grandma’s life. I’m so grateful I got to be a part of it for a weekend.

I didn’t really grow up in NY and I only remember spending time at my grandma’s when my family or I would visit, which was actually pretty frequently over the years, especially while I was living in Baltimore. Even though things have been moved around in an effort to make sense of it all, lots of corners look the same or call to me the way they did in previous years when I’d hang out at my grandma’s┬áhouse and take pictures (1, 2, 3, 4).

I photographed pages of old albums of my grandma’s that I’d never seen before, I and picked out a few prints to take with me. While going through her things, we’d find notes she’d written, special papers she’d stashed away, old advertisements so well-preserved, collections we didn’t know she had… It was incredible. It sort of felt like she’d hidden things around for us to find after she’d gone.