Happy fathers day to all the dads out there both young and old.
I didn’t know my father very well or I don’t remember much of him. I was seven years old when he died. My memories of him are vague and fading but he still lives with me.
It was a sunny day in October when he was taken away to the hospital. Us kids never knew how seriously ill he was and in those days youngsters weren’t allowed to visit the ward that he was in. I knew he was sick but we all get sick and get better. Don’t we? Or at least that’s what I thought. He never returned home.
The next time I saw him was from the front row of his funeral. A few hours later they were lowering his casket at the cemetery. It was a cold and gray November day. The snow was falling. The wind was blowing. It was a miserable day.
Even at that young age I understood the finality of death. I didn’t understand why dad was gone. Why did I have to lose my father while all of my friends still had theirs. It didn’t seem fair but then as I grew up I began to understand life is not always about being fair. We have our fate and our destiny. My destiny was to grow up without a father one of five siblings with a young widow for a mom.
My consolation to losing my dad was having a great mother. It wasn’t easy for her. We didn’t make it easy for her because we never understood as children how difficult it was for her.
As I grew older, got married and had my own children I realized the importance that parents have on their offspring. For better or worse we become more like than unlike our parents.
One of my earliest memories of dad was him setting lights up in the house to photograph us. We were always being photographed by him and then if it wasn’t too late we would get to see him use the bathroom as a darkroom. The orange glow of the safelight and the strong smell of developer, stop bath and fixer are etched in my mind. That would have been around 1958 or 1959.
Over the years I would pore over my fathers’ negatives, prints and transparencies. I became fascinated with photography never intending to pursue it as a career. Somehow I ended up in photo school after I quit university and the rest is history.
There have been moments when I am out by myself chasing clouds that I have felt my fathers presence. In a way my photographs are both a tribute and a reflection of him.
I still love you dad after all of these years.