Thursday, June 29, 2017

What do you say to a man who is dying?

I was going to write this entry only with my art in mind but there is something that keeps coming back to my mind - a topic that always enters my mind: death. I suggest you don't read farther if you are expecting a happy blog entry here.

Since I was 13 years old, the thoughts and fear of dying have become a focus in my life. Maybe it began when I experiences my first death ever - that of my maternal grandmother whom I was close to. The whole experience was a bit surreal. Growing up in an Italian-American family, it's tradition to have a funeral that lasts several days, including an open-coffin for viewing (unless the person died tragically that would leave them disfigured). It was normal to go up to the body and discuss whether the deceased was presented well or not and no one gave it a thought that it was a dead body, or so it seemed. The viewing took place during 2 or 3 days so many people can have that as their last memory of how the deceased looked. It certainly was never the way I wanted to remember them.

So, as some others close to me died over the years, some affected me more than others but overall, there has been an emotional block for me. I think I was conditioned to do that from 13 years old. However, this has not made me impervious to death nor whom that has died. In fact, it has gone deeper inside and I am more and more afraid. Over the years, I developed anxiety and panic attacks linked to it all and I try to shake it out of my mind when the thoughts are there.

My father died in 2009 and my mother last year - 2016 and I am counting what older members of my family are left. Recently, I learned that one of my uncles is not doing very well. He is 92 years old. He has lived a long life with a big family. He is one of two of my father's brothers and has done quite well in his life and has done a lot to help my family. When my father died, I called him and we had a big conversation. I have reached out to him several times for help, though at one important and vulnerable time recently, he denied helping me which made things very difficult. I kept in touch with him, nonetheless.

When I learned that he is not doing well, I wrote him a letter. I began it with niceties and a brief update on things in my life without much detail. And then it came to ending the letter. I had trouble finding the words. If he is indeed doing as poorly as I had heard and the inevitable is about to happen, then what do I say?

I had closure with my father before he died but not in the way one would think. He said some loving words to me that I didn't think he was capable of, considering he was mentally ill. When my mother died, it was sort of sudden but even so, our relationship was very difficult so the last things that were said, were not good. And with the others that died, there was no time before to say anything - something I wished I was able to do with my maternal grandparents, anyway.

So what do I say to someone that I know is dying? I wanted to ask him if he was scared. I wanted to ask him if he would live his life differently if he had the chance. I wanted to ask him if he really believed in Heaven and Hell as the final places to go. But no, of course I wasn't going to ask any of that. I just told him to take things easy and rest and to surround himself with all the love and family he could and if he as able to respond to me, to do so.

He lives in the US so the odds of me being there when he dies are none. And when he passes, I will sit and mark another one off my list of others....the list gets longer.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The summer is here

Work, as in modeling, is winding down now. I have 4 more days unless someone decides to run a summer workshop. Otherwise, it will be October when things begin again. Not good financially, but we are trying to make the best of it.

I plan to take advantage of the time off to study my French a little more and to promote my art. I sold a print of one of my new pieces, "Age Knows No Time" to a collector and great photographer as well. That is always validating and sometimes when another photographer buys your work as opposed to a layman, it's even moreso. I found a great print lab in Paris that does archival pigment prints and beautifully! I was a bit worried as they only printed from compressed JPEG files but when I saw the print and on Hahnëmuhle's William Turner paper (one of my favorite textured papers), I was pretty impressed. Here is the image:

 I also sent a promo packet out to a gallery in Montmarte looking for an exhibition opportunity and I have one more I plan to send to. Here's hoping.

That's really it for an update at the moment. Stay cool!