My Dad was an amazing man. He was kind and fair, he could make anything grow and flourish in his garden and he overcame with considerable dignity more illnesses and challenges in the last years of his life than was ever fair for one person alone to face. He had an entrancing twinkle in his eye and a fantastic sense of humour. He always put himself last and would do anything and everything he could do to help someone in need. A big man with an even bigger heart.
My Dad also taught me how to take photos, he introduced me to the wonderful world of capturing moments and preserving memories. He was never far from his camera and looking through his photos in recent days reminded me of so many happy times we shared as a family.
My darling Dad passed away at the end of August.
|My Dad at one of our family’s favourite spots in Scotland|
I honestly can’t believe he’s really gone. I know it hasn’t truly hit me yet and that the grieving process is one that affects us all differently, and for a very long time, but I am sure that my camera is going to help me get through this in the end just as my words are helping me process at the moment.
I haven’t touched my camera since I got the phone call from my little brother to tell me to say that our Dad had fallen asleep and left us and this is the first trip I’ve made in a very long time where I didn’t automatically pack my camera to bring it with me. If I’m telling the truth I was even getting a little apprehensive at the thought of picking it back up when I get home next week.
Just a few short hours before he passed away I was taking photos of a lovely family in their garden. Children running around in the sunshine, shoes and knees damp with dew from the grass, eyes bright from the fun and smiles…real smiles…shining as bright as the sun. As we drove away I had a huge smile on my face, I knew this was what I was supposed to be doing. The shoot hadn’t gone entirely smoothly but then they never do. Little models aren’t always as sunny and smiley as they appear in their final photos, we all know that, there are always mini tantrums and moments of diva-esque behaviour. But even with all that…? I love photographing families.
They’re so unpredictable and exciting. Just like weddings, you know roughly what will happen but just how it will happen is anyone’s guess…and that’s what makes photography so wonderful. All those uncontrollable giggles are preserved for the years to come, all those happy tears and bone crushing hugs ready to be relived again and again.
Family often gets taken for granted. Yes, we all annoy each other at times – after a few days together during the holidays I would challenge any family not to have felt something slightly homicidal about their relations in that time – but we all know we’d move heaven and earth to help and support one another. We forget to call when we say we will, days turn into weeks between visits or Skype sessions. It happens, to all of us. Even with the best of intentions time just…slips away. And once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. A fact I’m all too aware of at the moment.
My Mum told me that the one thing my Dad always took with him on his all too regular trips into hospital, aside from his diary, were two photos. Photos of my two little girls, his beloved granddaughters. The day before he passed away, he was on his way out of the front door, ready to go get into the ambulance and go back into hospital when he realised he’d left his precious photos behind and so he went back deliberately to get them and have them with him. It helps me to some degree to know that even though I wasn’t physically with him when the time came, they at least were.
Yesterday was the day we’d all been dreading, the day we had to say goodbye. It was a beautiful ceremony and my family was truly touched by the sheer number of people who came to honour his memory. There were tributes that brought fresh tears and real laughter and so many warm hugs and warm wishes, it was just as he would have wanted it, I’m sure.
I have yet to come to terms with the fact that I’ll never hear my Dad laugh again, I’ll never again see my little girls squeal with excitement and run to their Granddad when he arrives at our house. To know that I won’t get to sit and proudly show him their newest drawings or my latest photos.
But I know he’ll be with me. Every time my flowers bloom in the garden or every time I hear an Acker Bilk recording. And he’ll be with me every time I press the shutter and help another family capture the memories that will one day mean as much to them as my memories of him now do to me.