Monday, July 6, 2015

Lost and Longing

Every week when I visit Mom I take my camera along. She is 80 years old, and I know that my days to photograph her are slipping away. And yet, for some reason, I can't bring myself to take her picture.

When I look through the lens and try to compose the scene, I feel lost. Who is this woman, so familiar yet sometimes so distant? I want to fix her hair, dress her up, and pose her, but I know this picture would be false.These days Mom is often confused. She is too busy trying to remember to bother with keeping up appearances.  And there is something about my need to portray her as more than or better than she is that makes me feel ashamed. Yet, the real picture brings me heartache.

And so, week after week, I carry my camera back and forth from my home to hers, no moments recorded, no images made. I feel sad because I know these are the pictures that will matter.

And then, today, this prompt arrived for my photography class, Wide Open, led by Henry Lohmeyer.

Today, I'm asking you to look at what is in front of you and the feelings you have around it rather than looking passed those feelings to get the perfect shot . . .  find something that speaks to what you feel you may have lost and long for. 

I'd be lost without her.  Sometimes she loses the days and names that go with faces and places, but she never loses her heart for home and family.



She'd be lost if I moved her from this place – her only home ever. On sad days, she wishes the good Lord would take her home, but I remind her that He has a plan for her life and we need her. 



I long for time to record her stories. Her memories bring her great comfort and she loves to talk over old times. She tells me the story of this picture of her as a little girl with her grandma's dog, Wolf.  

That dog was mean and wouldn't let anyone get near except me. Grandma said I had a way with that dog.


Lost and longing, we hold onto memories for dear life.

Henry says, "When feeling lost it's that single measured step that begins any journey."

These pictures are my first measured step.


20 comments:

  1. Good for you for taking these photos! I treasure the ones of my mother in her later days. Your mother has a beautiful nature inside her. I can see. And the wave - such joy and innocence. You will absolutely be so thankful for these. Just as she is. A beauty!

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  2. Love Love Love!! When God made her, he broke the mold. We are so blessed to have her as our Mom!

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  3. Your Mom has a radiance shining through in her photos. Treasure these shots, they are truly beautiful, there is recognition in her eyes when she sees you with the camera.

    I take my camera when I go to visit my Dad, at first it was so hard, he looked, and was so different then he has been, he was a shadow of himself. But this is his reality now, and ours. It's his life, dementia or not, and I'm finding that the shots I took last year at this time are so much more precious now because I can't get them anymore. And I will continue to photograph him as he descends into this disease, because although the face he shows me may not be the one I want, it's the best he can offer me now.

    Jen

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  4. Wow, Donna- this really speaks to me in so many ways. Mostly because i think of how my mom was the last few years of her life- and how distressed I was to have her change into someone that wasn't the way she used to be. I also wonder how I will be (I'm 11 years away from 80). You expressed your feelings so well- in words and in photos. I'm fascinated by the class- may take it next time. I know I don't keep up with commenting on your blog- but I do read it and am a fan!

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  5. Donna - I can't see to write you a message - tears are streaming down my face. You are writing about my mom...I could say the exact same words in your first three paragraphs.

    I love all of them, especially the one of your mom holding the photo....what they CAN remember today. It will be high on my list to photograph my mom when I go home. Being away 8 years..I hardly have any.

    Thank you Donna!

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  6. Your mom truly is beautiful and she does have a radiance shining through (as Jen said). I remember the first time my Dad didn't recognize me ... it sent a slow shock wave through me ... so even tho I can't possibly understand your unique situation, I can relate. So much great advice here, to see what is in front of us. Thank you so much for sharing {{hugs}} ...

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  7. I just want to add how beautifully you captured your Mom's hands ...

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  8. This made me cry too. Your mom is beautiful and has the most beautiful and uplifting smile. I rarely take photos of my parents and know that I will regret that someday.

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  9. Donna, you are such a blessing to your Mom as I am sure she is to you. You have captured it seems to me in my eyes anyway her essence and love of her family. I told you earlier I love her hands and my goodness that wave from her just speaks volumes. So glad to be on this journey with you and always love reading your thoughts about life and photography.

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  10. Donna, my eyes are filled with tears at the beauty of this post and these photos. My last photos of my mama aren't pretty as she was swollen with fluid and her coloring was yellow due to her body shutting down. But the joy in her eyes as her great grandbabies gathered round to see her is priceless.

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  11. Your mother is beautiful, Donna and I'm so proud of you for taking these pictures and sharing your journey.

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  12. you have struck a chord with so many others with your words and your photos...I am not alone in appreciating what it took for you to step out of your sadness and take these photos...and in understanding that the person she is, is not in sync with the person she was. I look forward to what else you discover in this new class you are taking...

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  13. Donna - I am so proud of you for putting aside your hesitancy and following through on the class prompt. Your mom is beautiful and you will treasure these photos forever. You inspire me to do the same with my dad, now we will see if I have enough bravery to follow through.

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  14. Donna, I read your post with tears in my eyes, your Mom is beautiful and your photos of her are wonderful. As a result of reading this, I have started to look at flights back home to the UK so I can see my parents. I had to cancel my trip last year as I needed to have surgery, and as you know we recently moved house, so it's been a bit stressful. Now it is time..... thank you x

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  15. Donna, I'm a bit lost for words...I understand the feelings and the short time you may have remaining with your mom. Mine's been gone for 8 years now, and I have the photos I took on our last visit before she passed on...and looking at them makes me sad, but also bring back fond memories and times we shared with her. I love how your mom is waving and smiling...such a sweet look. And her hands holding the picture - that one is priceless. This class must be a good one....I didn't know he had one like this, and I'll watch for another round. So much more meaning to these prompts. This is a very beautiful post...one that goes deep inside me. So happy you shared, and happy you took photos of your mom. xx

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  16. Hi Donna!
    What can I add after all these beautiful and touching comments?
    It's such a good thing that you could make these beautiful pictures of your Mom... she has such a radiant smile... one can read love and goodness in her eyes...
    She seems so happy to lend herself to your photography shooting and poses in front of your camera with such an open, harmless and blooming attitude...
    I'm sure you'll keep these pictures preciously and later look at them with great emotion.

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  17. So so glad you started. She has the most awesome smile and appears to to be a delightful person. Pull those memories out whil they're still there. My mother-in-law has few memories of the old days and can't remember that it just rained 3" a few hours ago. It's been easy to sneak some candid shots and video on my phone. I'm looking forward to more of your shots of her.

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  18. I read your post with tears in my eyes. Your mom has a beautiful radiant smile and the photos you took of her are so lovely, especially the one of your mom holding the photo.
    I wish I could take tons of photos of my mom and dad too, but none of them like to be photographed...

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  19. Oh Donna this post speaks to me of love and a life well lived. It speaks to me of a daughter facing loss on a daily basis even though your Mom's smile is as wide as the open...I see her, through your lens, as happy and vibrant still...I love her outfit with the little blue and pink flowered shorts...and I see that big wave to you or whoever...that would be a favorite for me. You need to keep photographing her, just as she is because she is a priceless...and ask the stories... I didn't and wished I had. This summer I travel to Seattle Washington to stand where my Mom stood as she wed her young Military Man...it was bittersweet that I didn't ask about that wedding day when she was alive. And on a side note..my Father died of sever dementia...at the end he didn't know my name or what a daughter was but his smile would like up the room when I walked in...the memories live in the heart not in the words...enjoy her and be kind to yourself.

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  20. No words here...we totally understand each other. By the way...so I don't forget...thank you for introducing me to Cathy @ ma vie trouvee...I can't wait to meet her one day too!

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