Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's Hard to Believe that Two Years Have Passed

October 14, 2014 
7:48 A.M. 

It’s hard to believe that the time has gone by like it has. Two years ago today almost to the minute it felt as though time had stopped, if only briefly, but as sure as sunrise the clock continued ticking its 
inexorable march toward eternity. 

Two years ago I was visiting my parents in Louisiana and awoke that Sunday morning to the news that my Mom had died just moments before. The last time I spoke to her, the previous night before I went to bed, she told me we needed to talk before I returned home to Arkansas as she had some important information she needed to pass along to me. 

Several times over the next few hours I remember saying to anyone within earshot that Mom had said she had something important to tell me. As I recall my state of mind that day, it seemed as though by saying it that I could force her to step back into the room and tell me what was so important, my mind reaching out but not quite able to grasp the finality of what had taken place. 

Two years later I still have trouble grasping that finality. I still have moments where I almost expect my phone to ring and it will be her on the other end just wanting to chat. I still have times when I want to call her and catch her up on the latest happenings. I still have times, damn it, when I just want to talk to her, to hear her voice just one more time. 

Mom and I had a difficult relationship for much of my life but in recent years we seemed to have reached a place where neither of us spent time trying to force the other to act according to our own 
guidelines. Much of that had to do with distance. 

Twenty years ago I moved to Central Arkansas from North Louisiana and that distance likely insulated me from much of the friction that often resulted from close proximity. As far back as I can remember, Mom had always been angry with someone, but for a number of years that someone wasn't me, a happy circumstance that allowed me to draw closer to her emotionally even as I maintained 250 miles of physical distance. 

During her final illness, Mom often raged at my two brothers, one who has lived with my parents for several years and the other who moved home from Washington State to help care for her during that last six months. Wayne (the Washington brother) returned to Washington State just a week before Mom died. I think Mom wore him out but he had already stayed far past his self-imposed deadline and quite honestly, just as no one expected her to die on October 14, 2012, no one had expected her to live that long after she was diagnosed. 

She actually seemed to be getting better. When I pulled up in the yard that Saturday morning, Mom was out walking the dogs and she had just set a pretty sumptuous table for company. 

Truth be told, my biggest regret regarding Mom and that final weekend is that instead of fussing over her for the trouble she had gone to I instead fussed at her for expending what I considered to be energy she hardly had to spare. I spent months trying to will her to call me just one last time so I could tell her what an incredible meal that was and how nice the table looked. 

Later, in the middle of the night, she began having trouble breathing, to the point that she had become cyanotic, so hospice was called. The nurse came to the house and gave Mom morphine to help calm her down and ease her breathing. 

The nurse left later that morning, before 5 A.M., saying that Mom had weathered the storm and was resting comfortably. I have long suspected that Mom administered additional morphine to herself 
before the nurse arrived and that it was something close to a double dose that caused Mom to drift offto sleep and then continue on beyond the grasp of mortality. 

I have no way of proving it but I do know that Mom was terrified of dying in pain and confusion like her Mom had experienced nearly 23 years before. Also, during one of our many talks over that last six months, Mom had confided to me that at one point she had nearly died when her blood oxygen level dropped precipitously (she had to be transported to the local ER to be resuscitated) and that it felt so peaceful and inviting that she no longer was afraid to die and that if the actual event would be as peaceful and comforting as that near miss that she even looked forward to it. 

I’m not saying that Mom intentionally hastened the inevitable. I have no way of even knowing if she in fact did take any additional medication, much less intentionally or in sufficient quantity to have that result, but I will say that should I ever find myself in the same position I will consider keeping an off ramp open just in case. Because let’s face it. Once the novelty wears off of being told you have a terminal condition from which you will not recover, I can think of few things that would become more tiresome, more tedious, than simply waiting to run out of gas. 

But none of that means that I don’t still miss her. I miss the pleasure she derived from the various talents my brothers and I display and the accomplishments we have experienced. I know at various times she could make any one of our lives difficult should she find reason for disapproval in some action or failure to act but I also know that she was extremely proud of all three of her sons. 

I miss the inevitable phone calls whenever I would make a trip home on my motorcycle to make sure I was okay and hadn’t been run off the road. I miss our frequent phone conversations and the fact that I had become able to confide in her many things that would have otherwise never been said and that for the past two years don’t get said and probably never will again. 

I just miss my Mom. I think I always will. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

In the Beginning...

Before I was a photographer I was a writer. And before I was a writer I was a photographer. And before I was a photographer I was a writer. It's funny how things come full circle sometimes.

Even funnier is how things come in to fill the circle that have no relation to the circle itself other than to give it shape and definition. In other words, the circle is me, the unrelated fillers are the experiences outside of what I consider to be my truest callings that have conspired to make me who I am in defiance of who I want to be. Does that even make sense?

No matter. I call it as I see it and as long as it makes sense to me it makes sense (at least in some sense of the word).

I have another blog, one I started a few months ago, intending to showcase my photographic works. You can find it at www.picturesquephotographic.blogspot.com, a blog title I am assured is too challenging for anyone to remember and thus likely doomed to oblivion from the start. Meaning it will be a miracle if anyone ever manages to stumble across it, much less remember it.

All the more reason for me to like it. Because of the first paragraph of this first blog post of my second ever blog. Because the fact that I was ever a photographer or a writer was as unlikely a happening as popes and bears swapping places in that old joke about popes and bears (no, if you haven't heard it, you won't hear it here), eclipsed only by the unlikelihood of my becoming both. That I made a living at both for a number of years prior to my current gig is even more unlikely.

Except that it happened. And because it did happen I see it as entirely possible that the impossible moniker of Picturesque Photographic could one day be a household name. Or at least a name not impossible to remember, much less spell. Which, in turn, gives hope to the title known as The (sometimes) Amusing Muse. Which, in turn, gives hope for me.

I don't know what direction this soon to be meandering collection of essays is likely to take. It may even take all of them (directions, I mean). Time will tell.

I only know that in a nearly eight year absence from steady writing, my brief forays into that medium are less than satisfactory and are, in fact sometimes reeking of a pessimism and bitterness that I don't feel on a conscious level but surely must hide just below the surface. Perhaps, even as this tidies up the prose, it will exorcise the demons that haunt my halting literary attempts.

Stay with me and we'll find out together as we occasionally come to this dusty corner room and pull the chain on the reading lamp for a few minutes release from the world beyond these walls. Let us see where it takes us. Welcome aboard.

Until next time....