Friday, May 14, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 134

Taken: May 14, 2010, sunset
Location: Healdsburg, Ca

Today is my Dad's birthday. He's 84. It's a big number, bigger to him then me I'm sure. He was born on Mother's Day, which makes remembering the day easier.

I've written before about my parents. Amazing, generous, happy, smart as hell and, like their four kids, slightly nutty. I know how lucky I am to have them and I call them almost every day, tell them (almost) everything. Nobody in my family lives and dies the ups and downs of my artist's life then them. I'll love them forever for that.

I wouldn't be doing this project if it wasn't for my Dad. He introduced me to photography. He gave me first camera and let me spend a good portion of my childhood in his darkroom, learning how to develop and print film.

Up until a year ago, my Dad was in remarkably good shape, healthwise. He's one of those people who has always eaten whatever he wanted including enjoying a daily cocktail - he makes a pretty mean martini.

But the last few months have been tough on him. He had a big health scare in the fall and when I visited them in October, I couldn't believe how much weight he'd lost. I remember sitting in my parents' living room when my Dad came in, just up from a nap. He stopped at a side table and I watched him adjust it. He always fiddled with stuff around the house. Nothing couldn't be improved upon or fixed. He was constantly lugging various items, from toasters to picture frames and radios and other gadgets, down to his workshop. And most stuff was better for having made the trip.

I saw this in the moment in the living room that day. In a way it was heartbreaking but it was also reassuring to know he was still my Dad.

I know he's slowing down and I think some days it seems like he'd rather just walk off into the sunset and be done with it. It's hard getting old, he tells me. It's tougher on a man who has lived every minute on his own terms with a clarity i've always envied.

Some days I wonder how well I know him. I was born when he was nearly 40. I never knew him as a young man - back when he had hair and a Sunbeam convertible. Over the last few years we've shared some long phone conversations though -- he'll start talking about the past and tell me things about his life I never knew. Probably I should record these conversations and sure I'll kick myself one day for not doing that. But they're so spontaneous too so maybe it wouldn't be the same. A few years ago, I videotaped him talking for an hour. I have never watched them but I know where they are. Keep thinking I'll put them on a DVD for my nieces and nephew. One of these days.

It will come as no surprise then that my Dad doesn't much care for birthdays anymore. I guess when you get to his age, it's understandable. Doesn't mean I can't make a deal out of it though. So here's to my Dad on his birthday. Happy Birthday, Pop. I love you.


Rebecca Palm* Gallimaufry Photography* said...

Beautiful photo. :-)

Barbara said...

Very endearing story. My parents are only in their mid 60's, but I can totally understand where you're coming from.