an ending, new beginnings

warning: despite the cuteness of the leading photo, this post will most likely devolve to be morbid, depressing and reflective on a life lost.

my grandpa passed away about a week and a half ago. it seemingly came out of nowhere, although he was 84 and a smoker and drinker his whole life. he seemed to be in good health. he just collapsed in his apartment after a shower and died.

i was at my house in lincoln alone when my dad called to tell me the news. afterward, i kind of just sat in my living room staring at the wall trying to figure out how i felt in my head. it wasn’t until a friend came over later and i tried to talk about it that i realized what made me the most upset.

it was the feeling of regret. regret of not taking a picture that meant something to me; that reminded me of him, while he was alive. it’s something that i don’t get to do over. there is no re-shoot.

but it’s not as petty as ‘not taking a good picture of him,’ but it’s more how that nonexistant picture reflects on my relationship with him that upsets me.

for photographers, i think personal photography is a great way to examine how you’re feeling, how people make you feel and helps to remember those feelings forever through an image. grant hindsley (he’s a a great dude and an awesome photo-j, check his portfolio here and blog here) commented on my last post about personal photography saying this about it, “It’s important, helps us figure ourselves out, ya know?”

So seeing that in the two or so years I had an opportunity to get to know my grandpa, I didn’t.

Either I didn’t try hard enough or he didn’t try hard enough or we both didn’t try hard enough, but that’s gone now. And it’s evident in the fact that I don’t have an image of him that connects with me on a deeper emotional level. All just snapshots, and few of them at that.

So when I traveled home for thanksgiving and the funeral service, I was going to make a point to start fresh. And what better place to start with than my three-year-old niece. She’s one of the easiest people I know to photograph, incredibly cute and photogenic and does some adorable things (hence the photos of her acting like a cat later on in this post).

I don’t want to make the same mistake of letting someone I love pass without having something of them to hold on to.

And one last image for my grandpa, hoping that he is moving in the wind, through the leaves and looking back on everything with his smile.

5 Responses to an ending, new beginnings

  1. saarimner says:

    Thank you for this post! Touching, and actually made me reflect. I lost a brother of mine last christmas, and it was also out of the blue. Thank you for sharing such a close subject. Here’s my story of that.

    Finally, the photos are amazing, and I really mean, AMAZING! The first one is a true favourite!

  2. Patricia Antonopoulos says:

    Your grandfather is in you, Andrew. One of the reason that you can write this tender tribute is because your grandfather loved your mom, your mom loved you, you loved them both. That connection never needed a photograph. Don Shea is part of the beautiful family love connection.
    I am sorry for your loss. Death crushes many hopes, but you see people and life with the special vision of a photographer. That vision, plus your love of family, will help move towards the new beginning.
    Thank you for your beautiful piece of writing.

  3. Dickinson, this is really moving. I think it goes to explain a lot of what many photographers feel about their personal photos. It’s part of how your brain processes things, attaches value, makes your personal affection and connectivity somehow quantifiably measured and visually remembered. I don’t know what that feels like exactly, but I know what you mean. When I think of certain people I don’t see them, not really. I feel a moment that defines them, and that sense of time frozen gives a face to my emotions. Beautiful words, and I’m so sorry for your loss.

  4. thanks, everyone.

    shannon, you nailed the explanation better than i could have.

    and pat, that means a lot coming from you! i still remember that all-boys first grade class fondly.

    grant….we’re probably secret twins. haha.

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