I’ve taken photographs of Mom’s frail hands curling in on themselves as if she had a handkerchief grasped in them, now just like the claws of a tiny dead bird . There is a photo of her hand in mine, awkwardly taken with with my left hand because she wouldn’t let go of my right. Besides, it was precisely the hand-holding that I wanted to capture.

I have photos of her with her comforter duvet tucked under chin; her skeletal head looking more and more like our granny, her mother. A photo with modern wireless earphones on, listening to Cousin Marion’s disc of hymns – soothing music; sometimes heavenly music, perfect to drift away with.

I have a photo of her with a white terry towel across her head, cool with a mix of alcohol and water to bring her fever down. With this makeshift headdress, she looks like Mother Teresa.

Lizbet leaned down and rested her forehead on Mother’s brow. The pathos of her sorrow is only matched by the pathos of Mother’s quietly suffering face. Lizbet was annoyed at me when I took the picture, but when she saw it, it blew her away and she was glad I had captured the moment. The picture captured precisely how she felt, she said. She reconciled to my constant picture taking, saying that she, too, was glad to the memories that it brought to her.

I have pictures of how the landscape echoed our days with fog tamping the trees and our spirits in funereal sadness. The bittersweet beauty of the trees in this heavy morning mist beginning to glow with the orange tinges of dawn are awesome and yet very peaceful.

One morning as I waited for dawn to rise and the world to stir, early, like six on a winter’s morning, the night’s hoarfrost revealed itself slowly as a dusting of white, like baker’s sugar, on the park lawn below. When the sun rose that day and burned off the morning mist, the tops of the elm and the other neighbourhood trees glowed a subtle and glorious orange and I photographed that as well, just before the food trolley began to sweep down the corridor and the aides and the nurses began their morning routines.

The next day when I went home from a night’s watch, it must have been around nine. The sun was not up very much, still struggling to warm the earth with it’s oblique rays. When I parked the car in our carport, the sun was staring me in the face, at my five foot six level, not yet risen enough to beat warmth into the earth. It came through the neighbour’s Douglas fir in rays that could have been Biblical illustrations, so much they looked like the “… and there was light … ” description from Genesis.

As I write this, Jane Coop’s soothing piano Themes & Variations – works of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Fauré – filter through my images, matching my mood.

I need to digest this death. I need to remember and honour this death. It’s too busy now to concentrate on it. Too much time spent spoon feeding or giving water – both activities, exercises in patience. Listening. For the moans that become words, final messages. Love. for more info on Jane Coop’s music. It’s wonderful.


One Response to “Photographs”

  1. suburbanlife Says:

    Thanks for posting this. It makes me ponder on the concept of continuity, you know, of the relay race kind where the previous runner hands off the baton to the one next in line to run a length of the course. The old runner is out of breath, exhausted, finished; the next one is anticipating with excitement and trepidation his/her lap – wants to measure up, but can he/she do it?
    That is a lovely, tender photo, Kay.
    And thank you for taking me to the Chan Centre, years ago, to introduce me to Jane Coop’s heartfelt brilliance.

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