Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Family Stories

When I first told my brother about my “Flowers for Mom” series, he shared that whenever he sees Queen Anne’s Lace he thinks of Mom.  Clearly I do too because it was the very first flower I photographed for the series!  Above is the first shot of Queen Anne’s Lace paired with a faded bloom in the same location two months later.  As evidenced in the incredible responses to these flower photographs, people associate flowers with special people and events, and these flowers are resonating with them in lovely, unique ways.  This series is rich with stories tied to specific images, and I hope you enjoy these.
My father is my greatest source of flowers, and it has been a joy to learn names of plants from him and to open the door to see him holding a cup full of flowers he found in bloom at Jasmine Hill Gardens, a place he has long loved and nurtured.  It has been an unexpected gift to talk of flowers in addition to how Mom is doing that day.  On both counts, some are more beautiful than others.  As you enjoy the flowers from the Christmas cactus and bromeliad delivered by Dad, imagine my kitchen table serving as my “studio” for the photo shoots!

I had never heard of pearl bush before Dad delivered a cutting to me.  Something about the flower triggered memories of my maternal grandmother, so I pulled out an old dress of hers that she would have worn with pearls, to serve as the background.
In honor of my wedding anniversary on October 2nd, I photographed two calla lilies, the flower I carried down the aisle 23 years prior.  With becoming wonderful young women, in their honor I photographed pink kalanchoes.  The message for which I was aiming when setting up the shot was “Dearest daughters, walk towards the light - there are people ahead of you, beside you and behind you.”
The discipline of taking a photograph of a flower a day provides me and those around me with a moment to pause and think of Mom and her Alzheimer’s journey.  Some have more patience for the photographic exercise than others.  As you can guess, an energetic 12 year old nephew has less patience.  I was with him one afternoon when we stopped by his house to pick up his tennis racket.  While there, my goal was to take a photograph in his yard where my sister works so hard to nurture her plants.  After about ten frames of a hydrangea in its muted fall tone, he asked if I was finished.  As only an aunt can retort, I said, “Greatness takes time!”
At the rate of a new photo every day, I have lots of stories, but will stop for now and let you make up your own story for the photo above while I dream of a book one day in which I can tell you more.  Opportunities to share through my “Flowers for Mom” are taking root with one example here from the Teepa Snow Online Dementia Journal.  I remain passionate about people enjoying the great outdoors, and hope you will check out my photographs on the the shirts for the new Red Hills Clothing line that donates a portion of the proceeds to benefit Tall Timbers, stewards of wildlife and wildlands.

In closing I leave you with the flower my eldest and a group of friends selected on a day when I sent them into a flower shop to pick my flower for the day.  When back in the dorm room shooting in my daughter’s window, I remarked that the flower was purple.  My daughter responded, “Of course, purple is the Alzheimer’s color!”