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Long Journey Home-Santos Frail Care and my Mother 1916-2005

Discussion in 'Photojournalism, Candids and Street Photography' started by bendheim, Mar 3, 2005.

  1. I hope no-one is offended by these images. If they are, I will take them down. But I've always documented parts of my life, and maybe some things are best kept private - I'm not sure, even now. But, it's a few months ago, so I feel better and more able to share this story with you.

    During November and December, we travelled to South East Asia. When we returned, and phoned my parents, we found out that they had been very ill. My father had spent the last 6 years looking after my mother, and they were both proud people, never seeking any assistance from anyone. So, when they both got sick, I guess they just lay in bed without eating and never told anyone. Friends found them in a bad way on December 26th, just after Christmas and they were taken to the frail care of the old age complex they live in.

    Soon afterwards we started out on the 1200 mile journey to visit them, arriving late on New Year's Eve. Only five months previously, they had hosted their 50th anniversary lunch at a local hotel. My father was active, walked around and drove his car.

    Today, after sickness and a mild stroke he is frail and confined to a wheelchair. On the 17th of January, two days after we returned home from visiting them, my mother died.

    Below, in pictures, is my story. I'm mostly over it now, so not to worry. But, if there is a lesson in all of this I suppose it is along the lines that we should all care everyday for the ones that we love, because life can change very suddenly....


    New Year's Day, Residents Lounge, Santos Haven Frail Care
    Just a single red balloon marks 2005 at Santos Haven


    Corridor and wheelchair, Santos Haven Frail Care


    My father after his stroke, Santos Haven Frail Care


    The Scrub-down Room,Santos Haven Frail Care
    Here, frail patients are washed by the staff


    My Mother having her last X-Ray
    Later that day, the doctor showed us on the X-Ray that she had a huge tumor in the one lung, which is why she had so much difficulty breathing. We never told her.


    The last picture of my Mother and Father together
    Taken three days before she died. When we got the call. the nurse told us they had been sitting in these same chairs having breakfast, when my mother put her head on my father's hand and died. He didn't know until the nurses came to clear away the breakfast trays.


    The journey home - God Heal our Land
    Taken on the side of the road...South Africa needs healing....


    The journey home - Roadside Crucifixion
    Taken on the side of the road, these three roadside crosses reminded me, in the sombre mood I was in, of the crucifixion. It will be added to my series that I am gradually doing on this subject
  2. Bless your heart. Thank you for sharing this touching story.
  3. Please leave them up. I'm 62 and have already buried my mother and father. The image of your parents holding hands and the anecdote of her death was overwhelming; it filled my eyes with tears. Right here at work and I don't care.

    My mom & dad were married for 52 years and loved each other in a way I'm sure your parents did. Mom was in a similar facility after injuring her hip in a fall. She had alzheimers and didn't recognize anyone anymore. My father took her leave one evening in the hospital and she called him back by name!

    "Marty" she said. She took his hand, kissed it and said "I love you so much." She died in her sleep that night. I guess God granted her a few moments of lucidity to express her feelings one last time and bid him goodby.

    As I sit here with tears in my eyes I hope you continue to work your way through this and remember them and the happiness they spent together rather than the last few weeks of hardship. Carolyn and I have been married forty years now and I can't begin to describe how much I love and cherish her. If I read correctly your father still lives. Soon, too soon he will leave you as well. God will help you through this..if you ask.

    Now I find myself, like the ancient mariner, telling all the young twentiesh and thirtiesh marrieds around me to try to understand that FAMILY is the most important thing in life. You can lose wealth, health, power or fame but family is still there.

    Thank you for these gentle inspiring photos. It reminded me of my mom & dad and how happy a life they had together.

    I will keep you and your father in my prayers.



    Feb 22, 2005
    New Jersey
    Thank you for posting such a touching story. The images are very powerful and moving. My prayers go out to you and your family. Thank you for sharing this very personal glimpse into your life with us.
  5. A touching story and moving images. Thanks for sharing this account. As one who has lost both his mother and father I certainly understand.
  6. God bless your heart, Rich. I think one must always remember all the efforts and loving his parents have given to him (or her) with the hope he (or she) will become a good and caring person.

    Besides, very well composed pictures.

    My regards.
  7. PGB


    Jan 25, 2005

    As I sit here at my desk with tears in my eyes I can only imagine what must have gone and is going through your mind. This is a very moving story and I appreciate your ability to share with others, life.

    Family is the most important thing to me. I have a wonderful wife, 2 children, 3 brothers, a sister, and still have my mom and dad. I speak to my mother and father at least once a day. It has always been that way. My dad is the best role model that I have ever had or will have, and my mother is the kindest person to ever walk this Earth.

    My work schedule is pretty packed. I don't get to spend the quality time with my wife and kids that I probably need to but fortunately they understand that I work hard for them. To be able to care for them and our parents if the need arises. I couldn't imagine not being close to my roots and being able to see my folks.

    You are a very special person to be able to say both in text and pictures what your heart feels. I like I said in my email asking for you to post an essay I am always amazed and moved at your posts.

  8. hans


    Feb 5, 2005
    The Netherlands
    Brings back memory's of my parents who went to soon

    Thank you for posting this essay,I know how you felt......
  9. I'm really sorry for the mistyping :oops:  . I meant Peter not Rich.
  10. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005

    With the tears that were welled up in my eyes, I didn't even notice.... :roll:


    Wonderful, albeit sad, post. Sometimes some of us take these precious relationships for granted. As soon as I hit the submit button, I'm going to call my (78 year old) mom.... :wink:


  11. Hi Frank,

    Peter's story and pictures are very touching. I'm thankful to God that both my parents are still alive and in good shape (they are over 80 years old).
  12. WOW

    Now this is photography at its best conveying a story and yours is very moving as I sit here in my office at work a tear rolling down my cheek, you have touched a feeling inside that I think all of us worldwide have regardless of race religion or ethnic background, thanks for sharing such a touching story.
  13. Thank you very much for sharing these experiences with me. Your comments are really appreciated.

  14. Your essay and some of the responses have brought tears to my eyes, but warmth to my heart. I'm gonna call my mom right now.
  15. Peter, yours is a rare gift that touches peoples hearts with words and pictures. Thank you.

  16. NeilCam


    Feb 21, 2005
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Superb and heartbreakingly touching as always Peter. Perhaps even moreso than usual because these are of your life.

    Both my parents are still alive, but are a quarter of a world away in Australia. They're due to visit in May and I look forward to seeing them. Mind you, I still hate that the older I get, the younger my mother seems to think I am. I'm 47, but I'm sure she thinks I'm 7. :D 

    Great story, great images Peter!

  17. Jeez, Peter!

    Man! This essay is simultaneous open-heart surgery and soul-bearing! As some of us say in my neck of the woods: Heavy Duty Stuff.

    I always get a different perspective from taking your doses of reality!


  18. Peter,

    Thanks so very much for sharing such a personal piece of yourself w/ us like this. The photos make just the right touch me thinks, revealing much and yet not too much. Very touching and moving for this thirty-something father, husband and son.

    My own parents are still quite young, so it's often too easy for me to take it for granted they'll still be around tomorrow. Unfortunately, they are estranged, but I hope and pray that maybe someday they might reunite or at least reconcile enough to build some sort of friendship for their own sake, if no one else's. Reconciliation is a tough thing and always comes at a cost to somebody, but one can only hope and pray and do what one can. It certainly worked for the difficult issues we've had w/ my in-laws -- thank God!

    Peter, if I could someday tell a remotely similar story about my own parents w/ or w/out the photographs, then ...

    God bless you for sharing this w/ us. Peace be w/ you...

    In Him...

  19. Hi Rich,

    So sorry to hear you lost your parents. I am 42 yrs old and I lost my father when I was only 24 yrs old. I still remember that day. There is no reason why he shouild have died so but god saw fit. The saddest part aside from his passing away is the fact that I just found out that I was pregnant with my son. Thank the Lord that I was able to tell him if I have a boy, I will name the baby after my dad. That made him smile. He died 3 days later.

    The good news is my mother is still living. She just turned 74 this past New Years Day. She still drives her car. Hearing is not too good but her mind still remembers quite abit. Believe me she never lets me forget those times when I was going through my teenage years. She kept me straight and still does. :) 


    Nice series on your Mom and Dad. I think you should leave them up. The story is very touching.
  20. Hey Peter,

    You've got the gift, no doubt about it. I was always a big fan of your work but these really put you on another level beyond many of us.

    Can't say enough about this. Hope that when your project is done that you'll share it with us.

    Very personal. Very emotional. Thank you for sharing.

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