On the importance of photos and losing your little brother…
I very seldom write about my personal life as I am a very private person. Today is different. Todays’ blog is as much about remembering my little brother “Bobo” as it is about photographs and photography.
My mind has been far away from photography for quite a while. That spark of creativity was missing. I wanted to go out but could not motivate myself and I did not know why.
I think that I now know.
A year and a half ago one of my brothers was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. It was just a few days before Christmas that we got the news. Dave insisted that nothing change and that we continue with the family celebration as usual. At stage four with lung cancer the outlook for living past a few weeks is not great.
Dave lived to spend another Christmas with us. He was a miracle. He was defying all the odds of surviving his illness. He was a machine at home painting the house, pruning trees, doing everything that he could think of so that when he passed it might be just a little easier for his wife.
Dave never asked for help but last fall I got a phone call from him and he said, “Dan, can you come over and help me with this tree. I just don’t have the energy to finish it.”
I was over in a matter of minutes to see the bed of his half ton truck almost full of branches as thick as your thighs. He had one more large branch to finish and couldn’t muster the strength. I worked for an hour getting the last branch down and loaded and I was beat. I offered to haul the load to the disposal but he refused me saying that it was easy to do and don’t bother.
That was my little brother. Never complaining. Never asking why me? It was only in his final months that I found out from his wife that he had days where he cried in pain and wrapped his head in pain as he also had a brain tumour, a few in fact.
Dave died a couple of weeks ago in his bed. He got up in the middle of the night, fell down and was helped back to his bed. A few hours later his wife awoke next to him to find him cold and not breathing.
That was Dave. It was never about him.
Dave didn’t want a funeral. He didn’t want people being sad about his passing. He insisted that there be a celebration of his life where friends and family could share funny stories about him.
Part of the celebration was a slide show of Dave’s life.
Our father died when my brothers and sisters were very young but before he died he shot thousands of black and white and color images of us and our lives. When my mother passed a few years ago I inherited boxes of black and white negatives, prints and transparencies.
In all of those years that I had them I never looked at them. But I did last week and the first picture that I pulled out of a slide carousel was of just Dave and I and I cried. And I cried and I cried some more. We were so happy then. We were so young with beaming smiles and our lives ahead of us. I was transported instantly to that moment and I missed him so bad. God how I still miss my little brother.
The more photos that I went through the more the memories came flooding back. This goes back to the late fifties. It was like being transported in a time machine. The clothes, the houses and cars and even how the people dressed and did their hair was different but it all came back.
And then it came to me about the importance of photos in our lives. They are more than just pretty or something to make a few dollars from. They are reminders of experiences never to be lost. Never to be forgotten.
I love you little brother and I miss you too.