They were not for sale…they were for remembering.
Florida vacation was postponed. It’s cold there. At least for Florida. But even with the cool weather, I’m still disappointed that we had to wait. I’ll save my vacation time for later in the summer, but could have used the time to relax.
We didn’t decide to wait because of the weather, we’ve been there in February, but had to wait because my wife is in Connecticut taking care of her mother. She needed the vacation as much as I did, maybe even more, but as much as we’ve anticipated the day when we would have to deal with aging parents, we had hoped it would be later rather than sooner.
We could tell my mother-in-law’s condition was deteriorating when we were there over Christmas, but calls from a couple of her close family friends brought the news that they were worried for her and the decision had to be made to start helping her more directly to simply deal with everyday life issues.
So my daughter and I stayed here while my wife is confronting the unpleasant circumstances of doctors, and lawyers, and accountants, and a mother who is confused and ill and irritable, but at the same time thankful for the assistance. My wife is not the nearest offspring. There are two brothers that live within minutes of my mother-in-law. But my wife is the eldest child of five, and feels and accepts the responsibility the way it has always been thrust upon her in her family.
So I have been here thinking about memory. And losing one’s memory. And losing those memories of our lifetime. And I am glad I am a photographer and have spent so much of my time documenting various phases of my life. So many of the images I have recorded are meant to be a record of who I was at the time, what my life was about, where I have been and with who.
That’s what we do as image makers. We create memories to hold on to. Points in time, reminders of people, and places, and events. But also of feelings, and loves, and hurts, and joys, and life. Lest we forget. A way to hold on to our memories and know how we got to this point in our lives and what has shaped us as friends and family members and human beings.
I began working this week on scanning some older photos shot in the late 70’s and early 80’s with my Polaroid SX-70. I shot hundreds of these, and have looked back through them a few times. I wanted to preserve some of these before they deteriorate and are lost. Many are pictures of dear friends from the past, and some are of people I can’t even remember. The great majority were of Mark, the closest male friend I ever had. We were very close back then and spent a great deal of time together. Sadly enough, Mark and I drifted apart, and have not spoken in over five years.
It seems almost all of the others in these photos have also passed out of my life as well. Our lives change, people come and go. For some, old friends last a lifetime, and for me, they seem to have moved on, or I suppose, I have. They are replaced by others who will share another part of our lives as we grow and change and create new memories.
These photos were taken when I was becoming a professional photographer, but they were not my professional images. These were more personal, more intimate, more about my art and my personality. They were about my spirit and my passions and the beauty of my experience. They were not for sale. They were for remembering.
My mother-in-law’s house is filled with memories, memories of her family, photos, Native American objects her father collected, antiques acquired over years of hunting and dealing, stonework around the mantle done by a family friend, shrubs she has tended and pruned for years. But in the last few years it has also become cluttered with other stuff, useless nick-knacks and extra dishes, baskets and spare chairs, books that will never be read. It’s so symbolic of her. So symbolic of the breakdown of old age. I wish for her the uncluttered house and mind, the comfort of the memories and the safety of her home, the simplicity of only what is needed to survive with joy day to day, the warmth and beauty that was there when I first walked into her house, before my wife and I were married. For the past slips away as the memories go and we are left with our pictures and our treasures and our clutter and those who love us to remind us of who we are and how we got here, and that our lives and our experiences have meant something.
All images are Copyright © George Cannon, all rights reserved.