To document a family matriarch - a privilege

"Does wisdom transfer through the hands?" Mary and Aunt Molly hold hands. I watched Aunt Molly's hands for nearly two hours.  They were well-worked, yet they retained a great softness and beauty. I waited, knowing this image "just had to happen".  After the Nikon was put away, the ladies clasped hands.  I whipped my cellphone out of my jeans pocket and took this image.  The best camera is always the one you have available to make the image. (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016, Lee's Summit, MO.

"Does wisdom transfer through the hands?" Mary and Aunt Molly hold hands. I watched Aunt Molly's hands for nearly two hours.  They were well-worked, yet they retained a great softness and beauty. I waited, knowing this image "just had to happen".  After the Nikon was put away, the ladies clasped hands.  I whipped my cellphone out of my jeans pocket and took this image.  The best camera is always the one you have available to make the image. (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016, Lee's Summit, MO.

A Short Recap

A few weeks back, I recounted how I am changing a few things in my art/photography business.  One of those changes is to offer photography services for my own happiness - using my photography in the service of others.

This past week I traveled to Lee's Summit, Missouri, for a week of wild best-friends craziness.  You'll just have to take my word for it that three women of a certain age are capable of some crazy stuff...in the middle of Missouri.

You've met my friend Mary before.  She was the first participant in the Holding the Bones project.

Mary's maternal Aunt Molly (soon to be 83 years of age) is the remaining matriarch in Mary's family. Aunt Molly lives with her son's family in Lee's Summit.  It was the perfect opportunity for Mary to visit Aunt Molly. 

Earl, Aunt Molly's son, accepted my offer to take photos and to share them. 

A brief look into the day

It is not my intention, nor my inclination to take the perfect portrait.  Oh, portraits are lovely, but sometimes we miss the essence of the soul that is sitting directly in front of us. We may miss the far history that reflects through the eyes.

Sometimes, in a perfect portrait with a pristine background, we miss the subliminal effects of space and the daily accumulation of objects.

Sometimes, in a perfect portrait with the purchased backdrop, we miss the physical boundaries that surround a person, the boundaries that become the contraction of a mythic life. 

Aunt Molly takes in Mary's stories and updates on all the other cousins and grandkids. The more I look at this image, the more I see a deep core of inner steel, inner strength, and deep focus. "Pensive Aunt Molly" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Lee's Summit, MO.

Aunt Molly takes in Mary's stories and updates on all the other cousins and grandkids. The more I look at this image, the more I see a deep core of inner steel, inner strength, and deep focus. "Pensive Aunt Molly" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Lee's Summit, MO.

Aunt Molly wanted a photo with her flowers. "Aunt Molly in the shadows with her flowers" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Lee's Summit, MO.

Aunt Molly wanted a photo with her flowers. "Aunt Molly in the shadows with her flowers" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Lee's Summit, MO.

What does it mean to move into someone else's space? How does the accumulation of life experiences, wisdom, independence give way to the spaces, routines, and daily rituals of others?

We know our families love us. We know our families worry about our safety.  What will we have to give up for that love and protection?

A different direction

As happens so very often as I write these blog posts - the direction changed. It is as if the message of the images jumped over my ideas, my intentions, to make itself known.

Visiting Aunt Molly gave me the gift of sitting back and asking the questions that I could not ask myself during my own parents' final years and months.  Aunt Molly gave me the gift of asking the questions about my own future.

It is an interesting dichotomy...

Last week I wrote of the experience of being a grandparent, comparing it to being a bird riding thermals - a complete "over the top" view.  As the grandparent, I have the ability to fill my life with the wonders and awe supplied by grandchildren.

And this week I find myself contemplating the questions...

"Who will be my "grandparent"?

"Who will be filled by the mythic stories of my life that have preceded this time?"

"How will my spaces, my boundaries, my routines, my daily rituals be honored?"

"What will I have to give up for protection and safety?"

Tough questions...and I'm bawling my eyes out as I type.

This is the gift of elders...they hold the wisdom and experience of the past...they know and understand the cycles of life.

Their lives, their wisdom, their very presence in our lives, force us to confront the hard questions and the hard decisions.

The power of an image

And you see...all these thoughts came from gazing into the eyes of a family matriarch in a photograph.

Yes, there is power in the image. The power - along with her story -  deserves to be honored in print.  Everyone should have the gift of gazing into the eyes of their own elders and seeing what resides within.

Mary, Aunt Molly, Earl.  "The family legacy moves forward". (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Lee's Summit, MO.

Mary, Aunt Molly, Earl.  "The family legacy moves forward". (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2016. Lee's Summit, MO.

Gratitude

As happens quite frequently, when we offer a gift to others we become the recipients of something greater than ever expected.  I never expected to be presented with such wisdom and teaching from Aunt Molly. 

She has moved me deeply.

And my heart is filled with gratitude.

'Til next week

Expect the best. Anything else is an adventure.

Rebecca

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