13.11.18: Tuesday was spent in the company of professional model Daryl Hembrough cooked up in a disused farmhouse on the Mendips with a photographic assignment/project, which more information of will be following shortly. Inbetween the rigour of trying to capture shots in the challenging light conditions were bursts of humour that helped the day tick along, including this particular shot of Daryl seeking to impress the farm cat with his human levitation skills. The cat has not been seen since.
Today (3rd May) is one of those days. A marker in one’s life where I take time to pause and reflect on those people who have given me the foundations to build my life. As I write this, I do so with a gentle glow of pride that Janet (my sister) and I had two amazing parents who both passed away on this day 12 month apart. Today marks the first anniversary of a year without them physically in our lives. The tears have subsided, the photographs make me smile, the space they left remains, but their presence is strangely stronger. I see them in the day to day behaviours of individual family members (yes sister you have mums fire burning inside). I hear them in the causal talk of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I often see them in my mind’s eye when I ask myself, “what would they think?” or reflect on a memory.
As my parents entered the last phase of their lives and with their blessing, I took an assortment of photographs. I also had the fortune to talk about my parents on national radio via Lauren Laverne’s BBC 6Music’s regular slot Memory Tapes, which judging from the feedback I received reflected the thoughts of many people who heard it. My mum passed away shortly after I took this photograph, which captures their last kiss.
Today, I write these words and share this image after careful consideration and talking to my sister partly to help break-down any fear we may have in discussing death, to offer support to those who may be facing similar circumstances and reassure you that there is light after the darkness. But more importantly to celebrate the beautiful cycle of life. If you are fortunate to have parents like me and my sister, they teach you how to live, love and ultimately how to die with dignity. When all is said and done can a child ask for anything more from their parents? Love all the people all the time.
A giant man of rusting steel sits gazing out across the sea in permanent thought. Flat cap, large overcoat with his walking stick in one hand just peacefully reflecting on life. Freddie Gilroy was a former miner from County Durham who, as a soldier shortly before his 24th birthday, was one of the first allied troops to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in April 1945 where they found more than 60,000 prisoners, most of them seriously ill, and thousands of unburied corpses.
For more information on Freddie Gilroy and the Belsen Stragglers click here.