Every year that spring rolls in, I am reminded of celebrations of thankfulness that come with it. May and June to me are marked as months to celebrate our parents with Mother’s and Father’s Days.
Nothing will make you feel a loss more than a day dedicated to a person no longer here. And if it’s a parent, not only will you feel this loss on their birthday, but also on that special day in spring meant only for them.
My father was never one to celebrate big holidays, let alone the little guys. He hated attention and large gatherings, preferring the small moments shared by one or two of us in his garage where his entire life’s focus was centred. He enjoyed cars. More importantly, the problems and challenges they pose to a mind that was always whirring around a way to develop a solution. My dad was not your standard educated man; he went to school until grade nine and had minimal college to get by. What he knew and learned, he got from doing. He was self-made and taught in a way that many are not in today’s day in age. I admire this quality about him. It spoke to his intelligence as something that was earned, and he earned everything.
I spent many days with him, countless hours, sitting at a workbench watching him problem solve. Being somewhat quiet like him, these moments of comfortable silence gave me a better glimpse of him then talking did. There is something to be said for watching a parent in their element; seeing them work at something other than parenting. It’s where I saw him most honestly. And every now and then, I would ask him a question, sometimes about things I already had an answer to, just because I liked listening to how he explained them to me.
One of my own favourite pastimes has been photography and during my own schooling, photography classes gave me an opportunity to combine my love for images with translating my father’s mind into still life. He was my favourite subject, if only because his soft, quiet exterior was never altered for the camera. He would shutter himself away in his mind to focus on a problem, while I clicked away around him capturing the focus that was one man’s escape from the world.
I’ve never been more grateful for the amount of time I spent with him, then when I am perusing my digital library. Countless photos of my father working are what give me peace when my mind cannot stop searching for him. I can find him, just there at the workbench or under a car, anytime I choose, and he will never age.
As Mothers and Father’s Days approach, I encourage all you 20-somethings to take the time (and any camera) and spend the day with your parents doing what they love. Photograph them how they are, with who and what they love. Build up that library of images and memories, so that someday, when they have left this earth, you may find them in the most honest of places.
This is so beautifully written and so very smart. I wish I had thought of this many years ago. I have only a few photographs of my parents and always wished that I had more. I think that being able to have an entire “library” of ‘honest’ photos, would be such a comfort. And sometimes that’s all we need. Photos can be very powerful when you’ve lost someone.