I don’t recollect much from that day, although it must have been around summer 1971 given I was roughly ten years old. Scarborough was one of those cheap and accessible holiday destinations for working-class families from the North-East. The battleships of Peasmole Park, getting drenched at high tide or my refusal to entertain the infamous cable car ride it was a destination of so many happy childhood memories. I do recall my dad calling me over and giving me a quick demonstration on home to use his small Kodak Camera. ‘I want to to take a photo of me and your mum, son. When I say not just press the button, but make sure you can see both of us.”
I stood ready and awaited the signal. My parents assembled, my dad leaning against the wall and mum stood next to him. They looked like tin rabbits waiting to be shot in one of those penny arcades we often visited during the evening. “not yet, son” came my dad’s instruction. He took my mum by the hand and guided her in front of him, she fell back, and he then wrapped his arms around her. “Now,” my dad said.
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
A photography I took while visiting the Museum of Aljude: Resistance and Freedom in Lisbon last week. Graphic composition by Paulo Andringa Caldeira of Amavel Vitorino a shoemaker from Mora, Portugal, made with the faces of political prisoners. Vitorino was arrested in December 1940 for making “unpleasant comments on the current political situation of the country and its leaders.”
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.