I usually keep my blog posts to a specific shoot or theme, but it’s such an interesting time in my life that I feel like being a bit more personal with this post.
I’ve been spending about half of each week with my mother, in her home (about 2 hours from Pittsburgh). She’s not unable to live by herself, but me and my sister try to make sure she’s not alone for long. The changes that happen at her stage of life seem to happen rapidly, and we are all aware that these are the final chapters in her amazing life. I can’t speak for my siblings, but I consider this time to be a privilege. I feel blessed to have this opportunity to not only help my mother, but to know her as an aging woman who has lived a rich and vibrant life. Like I told her the other day, the child in me is happy to live with her for part of the week, and the adult in me is honored to walk alongside her in this way.
My mother is the reason I’m a photographer. She was always the one taking pictures in the family. Faces that she has known her whole life have waved to her camera for over 70 years now, and it was always expected that “Betty” would just, simply, be there with her camera. For her 88th birthday this Saturday I will be surprising her with a slideshow of her life. It wasn’t easy to find photographs of someone who was always behind the camera (as I suspect will be the case when someone tries to find photographs of me one day), but they appeared over the past few weeks, one by one … the pages calling to me from her photo albums.
Having this time with her in her beloved home (the home of my childhood), I am surrounded by her albums. Crinkling, torn pages of now familiar faces that are looking at my mother’s camera, passing moments that pause long enough to cross her viewfinder, and now, my heart. Late at night they seem to call to me, asking me to acknowledge them, remember them, revere them. Some I have spent a lifetime looking at, studying the faces of relatives who have long since passed, and where they were when they were caught by the invitation of my mother’s camera. Some that I’ve never seen before, especially those of my beautiful mother.
At this time of being of service to my mother, and as the photography market continues to change and a new season begins, it’s lovely to to be called by time in this unexpected way. I’m reminded of what it is that I do. I preserve time.
In honor of my amazing mother and her 89th year on the planet, I wanted to share this portrait of her taken sometime around 1943. She had asked a cousin to take her picture so she could send it to the handsome serviceman she had met recently at the local skating rink – the man who asked her to skate because his friends dared him to – the man who would one day be my father. I imagine that when he received it, surrounded by his army buddies, he could hardly remember his own name.
Thank you, mom, for teaching me to honor time. Now it honors you.