My Grandpa Avery is 100 years old. He’s slowing giving up his life, and I am really sad about it. On normal days I’m okay, and can be rational about the fact that he had an amazing life.
Today I find myself thinking about him and wishing him peace in his last days.
I wish myself some peace too.
My grandfather looked at life like a photographer. He took brilliant photos on all of his world travels. I remember one trip he took to Asia – I must have been a teenager because my Grandma Agnes was still alive. When they got back we all gathered in the “Projection Room” where he had a screen and a his slide projector with tray after tray of photos. He would narrate the trip in a grand way, showing us temples and people and cars and trees and my grandmother with an orange scarf. And food! He took pictures of the food.
After the family showing he would go back through one by one and talk about what he was thinking at the time, why he balanced the photo a particular way, what he could have done better. I liked the dark room, the hum of the fan, the details he pointed out that I missed the first time. A feather out of focus or a shadow from a tree that made the picture better.
I didn’t realize I was learning at the time – about composition, lighting, balance, and the importance of capturing the details of an event that you might forget.
So on a day like this when I am feeling overwhelmed and sad, I go through my own pictures. I think about what I was doing then, how I like the particular image, what I would do better next time.
This photo is a perfect example. I took this on January 1, 2011 – probably the coldest winter I have ever experienced in Arizona. (You will laugh if you don’t live here – the temperature that night got down below freezing! I made the boys wear gloves and drink hot chocolate to stay warm.) I won’t bore you with everything I would fix, but I look at this photo and think of that night and remember feeling like I could handle anything.
This picture reminds me that I am a strong, powerful, amazing woman. We aren’t supposed to say that as women, but I look at this and that is what I think. I was in Kauai last year because I won an award at work and they sent me there for a week to hob nob among the elite. After the work festivities were over I hired a guide and rented a lens and set off to see things in Kauai that I missed while hanging out at the ultra-manicured Grand Hyatt (it’s not just a Hyatt, it’s a GRAND Hyatt).
Again, I won’t go into the geeky details, but I remember looking through this wide-angle lens and seeing things differently. Not just in the metaphorical way…
T.S. Eliot was wrong, although he clearly didn’t live anywhere near Arizona. August is the cruelest month.
Or maybe I am just sad, and August is fine.