Thursday, March 20, 2008

About "The Thief"

A Story of Alzheimer's By Me

The actual story began many years ago, after my grandfather went into the nursing home (I want to say it wasn't too long before Jothan was born) I began taking photographs of our experiences there. This began at a time when I was NOT a photographer, I had no training, and the ONLY camera I did have then was an old Minolta SLR that had belonged to my grandfather.

Mostly the photos we took on visits were the normal ones you would take if you went to visit your grandfather. Occasionally I would stop by on my own to visit with him, and if I had my camera I may snap a few here and there. It was never anything I have shared with anyone. To be honest I am not even sure where all of those photos are now. But I did it for my sake.

Alzheimer's was such a thief to the life of this man. He is the reason I love photography. It was his grandfather that created the love for him (and me), as he was one of the first to photograph Zion National Park. When I inherited his camera, it took a few years for me to actually just DO what I had always wanted to do, since I was little and had seen my grandpa doing it...just taking photos of things that he loved...I wanted to do that too. Once I finally jumped in, I have never been happier. I often times wonder if the thief had not come into our lives what great adventures we would have had together. Would I even be shooting right now? I hope that I would. He would have loved Hawaii. I would have liked to have gone there with him. I think he would be ALL over digital. he would think my tele is the best, that would be his weapon of choice, I have his tele...a Sigma. Wow how Sigma has grown over the years. I remember asking my grandma how much it cost, "A Lot!"

Anyway, so this recent work of mine was really painful for me. For so many reasons. For two years I have been wanting to do this. Needing to do this, but to tell the entire "story" and be photojournalistic about it was more than I thought I could handle. I can't look at the photos without crying. It wasn't until a week ago that I got the call that this may be his time, as pnuemonia is raveging his body, that I needed to go, and that I couldn't wait any longer. I debated on if I could do it, I almost hired a photographer friend of mine to capture this for me. Only because I didn't think I could. I did it though. It isn't perfect, but it is what it is and to me it is beautiful.

I learned something great that day. Jothan was so sad/nervous. He didn't know what was happening, he asked me, "Mom, can I take a picture?" So I just metered for him for a while and let him compose and shoot. Then finally put it on Av mode and let him go. The things he saw, the way he saw them...tell another story...I'd like to share:

He took this one of me. I love it for so many reasons. He has this "natural eye for composition". Something my first photography teacher said to me, that was one of the greatest compliments I have ever been given and I am happy to give it to my son.

My grandfather. There is just something about this one. Even on Av mode it turned out. I love it. The line, the composition.

This one just gets to me. It makes me feel trapped...then he began shooting things outside.

These speak to me.

I'm taking away from this the hope that my son will grow to love what my grandfather and I love so much. That one day he can capture all of the things my papa didn't have a chance to do.
We had a very sacred experience last week, my grandmother told us a remarkable story about a blessing that my grandpa's home teachers, who themselves are frail and in wheelchairs gave to him. And after more than eleven years of wondering why, now we know!
I know you didn't have to read this, if you did I hope you take away some small appreciation for life, for memory, for your little ones. Hug them close. I needed to keep this memory for me most of all!


Adventures in Baby Fat said...

Thank you so much for sharing this post. It's beautiful and it's touching and it brought tears to my eyes.

Jill said...

Thank you for such a beautiful post. My husband's grandmother is in the late stages of Alzheimer's. He finds it difficult to see her - to recognize the shell that used to be such a lively, vibrant woman. I unfortunately never got to know that person. We celebrate Mimi's 95th birthday next month, and I look forward to capturing some moments for his family. I hope they will be half as beautiful as what you have shown in your past few posts. blessings on you and your sweet grandfather.

Carlotta said...

How tender! What an amazing post my friend. I love your little man. Sign me up for a shoot with him. =) For reasons such as these I too love and appreciate photography. To see life through anothers eyes. Things I would otherwise miss in this fast paced world. Thank you for sharing something so personal.

Amy and Josh said...

Kim, it has been too long since I have seen you. I had no idea how cute your hair is and how much shorter it is, I love it!!

I also love the pictures taken of your experience through your son's eyes, and the story behind them. I am so happy you have such good memories with your grandpa and that you can pass them down to your children.

moosh in indy. said...

From the mouths and shutters of babes.
The spirit was with Jothan, I've never felt it through a photograph before until now.
You're raising such spectacular chillins.

Leisha said...

Jothan definitely did get your photographic eye! I love the pictures. Love that you I(and Jothan) captured this story as hard as it may have been for you. I love your grandfather's story and your love for photography. Thank you for sharing it with me!

Cassie said...

Both beautiful and touching.

Holly said...

When can we start bringing him to weddings? He really does have an eye for composition!

Carrie said...

Thank you Kim! I wish that our family had been on top of that more- keeping memories. Jesse's Grandfather (and the only one I ever really knew) passed away at the end of February. We were filled with so much regret and what if's. We can never take back all the times that we said we should go up and visit them and never did. Memories are a blessing! And you truly have a gift of preserving those and the beautiful legacy that they leave behind! Life is so fragile and short. It takes becoming a parent and losing loved ones to really "get" that!

I hope your Grandpa is getting better. I don't think that you mentioned he passed. I'm sorry if I missed that if he did! Grandpa's are so special!

That little boy of yours sure has an eye! He just might be better than his mommy one day! ;)

Lawyer Mama said...

My grandfather had Alzheimer's as well, so I understand. I really do.

Those are some impressive photos taken by your little boy!