something other than i had planned

Something other than I had planned

This work is an extended portrait of my mother. It functions as a tribute to her character. It is an examination of her life, and an attempt at understanding the place she holds within my life.

As the youngest child, mom and I were close, largely because I was always around. I grew up in a world of adults, surrounded by older siblings to look up to and model my behavior after. Good at making myself unobtrusive, a shadow following my mother around, I was often privy to more than my share of family drama and gossip. Much I tuned out and the rest I quickly learned to keep to myself.

As I grew older, her sharing of information, of frustrations, of worries became more intentional. Just as my mother was a sounding board for the drama in my high school life, I gradually became hers as well. When my father died, it was just the two of us left in that house. The others had their own lives and families to look after – we had each other. Even when I was away at school, we spoke almost daily, often about nothing, knowing the other was checking to see if we were okay.

Returning home from college, I realized that the time we spent together at home had changed too.  My busy schedule of games, practices, and events was long past. I now found myself living according to her calendar, given a glimpse at the new life she had created for herself in my father’s absence, in my absence. I saw aspects of her life in new ways, old enough now to observe and question instead of merely following along. Her generosity with her time and energy was humbling. I volunteered beside her and realized how many others she continued to take care of. We talked about our views on life, on family, and even the forbidden – religion and politics. We came to better understandings of each other, even if we couldn’t agree. I brought her into my world of technology and photography, keeping her in the loop and dragging her around as an assistant for my projects.

 Getting to know her this way, as a friend, not only as a mother, has been an amazing journey, and one that will continue. Photography has become the tool for visualizing my evolving understanding of her, my way of reflecting on the insights I’ve gained and recording my own responses to these. This wasn’t the body of work I set out to create in the beginning. It has evolved into something more. This is a portrait of my mother, our changing relationship, and her new life, independent of my father. It speaks to her strength and resilience as she faces what we all must – change, as life continues to move on around us. 

May 2013