I’ve pondered on writing this blog post for Adoramapix. I finally decided that as part of my grieving process it was important for me to let the words and the images spill out and for me to share my experience with members.
Last week, my 82-year-old father passed away. I live in Canada and received the call on a Sunday that it was urgent that I come to LaCrosse, Wisconsin, as my father was dying. As you can imagine, it was a long trip to Wisconsin in winter as images from my father and I filled my head. I remember the time we danced in the basement to Lawrence Welk or the times we went swimming in the summers.
I knew this week would be his last week of life. I knew I wanted to document it in a way that I would remember how I felt, what was going through my mind and most importantly, I wanted this last thread to connect me to him. So I used my iphone to document my grief.
I arrived in time to make it by his bedside. I was the last plane in before 10 inches of snow hit the area and the airport was shut down. I knew my father was waiting for me to arrive, he was hanging on and would not go anywhere without me, my siblings and my mother by his side.
Two days went by, as my family and I were with him, he squeezed our hands letting us know he understood what was happening. We made him laugh in those last 48 hours with tales from growing up. It was a bittersweet moment as I laughed through the tears and watched my mother hang on to him through the stories.
He passed away with dignity. I held his hand as he passed from this life to the next. We headed back to our Iowa farm as we entered the next phase of grief and death and I saw the most beautiful sunset surround our 160 acre farm. We now needed to plan his funeral.
As the sun rose the next morning, I was in charge of all things media related. This included writing his obituary and gathering his pictures. I hammered out 82 years of life into 4 paragraphs. It didn’t seem right as my father was so much more than this. He was a midwest farmer and teacher who was captain of his high school football team, raised a family, loved sports, served in the military, served his community and flew the American Flag every day. He was so much more than those 4 paragraphs.
I started to gather the pictures. The pictures were the most tangible things I had that connected me to him. I laughed at his pictures of him as a child running with horses. I saw what a handsome man he was in high school and university. I saw the young husband looking dashing on his honeymoon with his wife. I saw the proud father of his first born, then his second, then his third, then me. I saw the pride as he worked at his school. I saw the pride he had when he worked in the fields. A rush of memories came flooding back.
Nothing could have prepared me for seeing my father laid to rest. It’s not something one can prepare for or even fathom. I only had my iphone on me to snap a picture of the American Flag being presented to my mother. It was such an emotional time, I was glad I could capture it quietly.
I guess the reason I wrote this post is two fold really. I wanted to first and foremost grieve. I wanted to tell someone my father’s story. Secondly, I wanted people to understand how important it is to get images off your hard drives, your phones, your cds and dvds. You never know how important an image is until you lose someone important to you. Most times the photograph is all you have left of them. I have over 200 images I will be printing through Adoramapix. I am ordering regular prints and metal prints as well as putting together a photo book. I am helping my brothers and sister grieve and my mother. I am making sure my children remember their PaPa with these images. Most importantly, I have something tangible to hold on to with my father’s memory attached to it. A print is more than paper and ink, it’s memories, it’s sadness, it’s happiness, it’s love. It’s all these emotions and so much more. Because in the end, this life is temporary but we can preserve glimpses of a beautiful life through pictures and photo books.