This is a story that nobody likes. It a story about aging, the failing human body, and death. It also a story that has been piecemealed together over the course of a few years. When you lose your parents, you do the best you can. You linger where you are invited and when you remember that you will want to remember. People and things disappear quickly and there will be no revisiting.
It is funny that the first of the last years you don’t really process what is happening. You don’t sense the speed of change. My mother had dementia and stopped being herself a few years before she died. My father had heart problems, diabetes, and prostate cancer, but was mentally clear until the end. Most of their care fell to my sister, who was a nurse and lived a few hours away. I had young children at the time and flew in from the West Coast when I could. My brother chose to stay clear of the whole thing.
Not everything is sad in this transition, so much of it is bittersweet. Friends and family come for a visit, there are late-night conversations and food. Looking at these images, I think about my parents' way of life, of their generation, and socioeconomic group. I think about the South and the city of Richmond, Virginia. I think about the events of their lives and their values. As my parent’s child, I think about the sound of their voices and the life of the objects in their home.
I offer these pictures as companions for people going through this transition. Nothing makes this experience any easier, but there is commonality and compassion for your journey.