Friday, July 9, 2010

Forgotten Images On Your Hard Drive...

I couldn't decide what to title this post... there were these options...






but never the less, here is what I wanted to say:

I didn't start this early morning intending to do a blog post,
but as we all know, sometimes one thing leads to another and
your path (actual, virtual - on the web, or emotional) can be instantly diverted.

So it was for me just now...

It is the 7 o'clock hour here on this fine Friday morning and before I leave to go into the shop office
for a FULL day of work, I thought I'd sit down and organize some photos for some ad artwork I will
be working on this weekend.

I started, though, by deciding to install some "actions" (whatever that means) into my Photoshop program.  

And though I am not named among the "photography is my new calling" sisterhood  and though I am not one of you who lusts after the latest model "X%&CB" camera (those letters and symbols translate into how ANY camera-talk looks to me:  foreign) for my birthday,
I do have to maintain my website and prepare my magazine ads for my business, 
so I begrudgingly
wade occasionally in those vast, unknown waters called photography.

As such, I opened my downloads folder on my computer to pull out the Photoshop additions I was to install in my program and 


Without warning, I found myself looking at the LAST thing I counted on (or honestly wanted to)
see this pretty summer morning.

There before me were images of my mother lying in her hospital bed two days before she
Confession:  the pictures were not a pretty sight.  

SHE was beautiful, as you can see here:

but in those last days, her
condition was anything but beautiful.

{Out of respect, I cropped her out of the picture.  And for those who are
wondering... it was a very unusual thing indeed for me to even think to take
any pictures there in that hospital room.  But something that day was telling
me that this was not a trip to the hospital that she was going to return home from.
Something told me to "record" the moment --- because there would come a day
when the chaos and whirlwind of all those events would have settled and for me at least,
I would need to/want to go back and be able to truly take in all that had happened.
Will I keep these images forever?  I don't know.  In fact there is only one other person
who has seen them, and that is one of my sisters who was there with me that day.
And even the one I have here on this post is obviously edited.  They are mine to have
for as long as I "need" them.  And I am glad that on that one occasion, I thought to
do the unusual -- document the unfolding of events that I would obviously need much time
to wrap my head around after the dust settled.}

I was startled and I even looked away -- my eyes diverted (much like my intended path this morning)
many times, before finally...
I looked.

And the look became a stare and then a deep, long gaze.

I found myself crying (and still now).  I found myself studying every square inch of the pictures.

There was meaning in every object in the picture.  

Every object on the bedside table,
every wrinkle in bedsheets and the bunched up pads/pillows on the bed -- I remember them
and I sitting right there on those very pads and blankets as I stared at her then -- just like I now
stared at the pictures I captured with my cell phone that day.

On the bedside table there is the funny-looking, standard-issue "hospital phone", 
a folded pad of some sort for her bed, and a few things that really tug at my heart like
a pack of gum that my daughter brought back to her (just in the nick of time, too) from her trip 
to Ethiopia in March -- just weeks before my mom died.  

The FUNNY thing about that pack
of gum is this: what would turn out to be my mom's last words to my daughter before leaving for
Ethiopia was "See if you can find a pack of gum from there.  I'd like a pack of gum from Ethiopia."
That's it.
No big time gift.  
Just "I'd love a pack of gum from there."

The quest for that pack of gum became the end-all quest (partly because I somehow knew
it would be one of the last things we'd give my mom).

I couldn't wait to bring that pack of gum to the hospital (unfortunately, my daughter never did 
get to present it to my mom personally...) and even in the worst shape my mom was in,
she struggled to open that pack of gum there in her bed and she began to carefully, and slowly
put a piece of it in her mouth.  

You'd think she was about to savor a piece of the world's most prized chocolate from a 
distant land...

And the moment came... she began slowly chewing... 
and then THAT FACE!!!!!  

Her face could not belie the fact that after all that anticipation... 

Oh my poor mom.  She did the best she could to try and hide how bad it must have been,
but her face told the story.  The gum began to just fall apart in her mouth and quickly
became a nasty, gritty mess not resembling gum at all.

And little did I know when I innocently gave her that gum, 
she was being restricted from water/fluids.


Now she had this mouth full of gritty, disgusting "gum" from Ethiopia and nothing to 
help her wash it out.  

Well, we dealt with it, and I managed to con her nurse into something that they did
allow her to have called "HONEY THICK WATER"....

Ladies... You DO NOT EVER want "honey thick water".

UGH.  The look on my mom's face as she tried to "drink" that stuff was worse than
the look when she tried to "chew" that gritty gum.   Oh my poor mom.   :)

Anyway.... on that bedside table were those two otherwise benign objects --
the small package of gum and the short glass with the paper lid on it (containing the
icky, sticky substance they loosely called "water").

Also in the background are the usual machines, etc. and the faintest hint of the
divider curtain that separated her from her "room mate" in that room.

That brought about another funny memory of that day :  
My mom was in so much discomfort and so out of sorts, 
and here was this woman in the next bed making SO MUCH
noise and commotion with her nurse, at one point my otherwise quiet and reserved 
mother muttered under her breath...

"I have HALF a nerve left... and THAT WOMAN 
is steppin' all over it!"

Oh my word.  No matter how much pain she was in, there it was -- that glimmer of the "real Vivien" again.  That was my mama. Love it.

So I sit here now at the computer, diverted for a bit from my original task.

And you who I thought to tell this tale to?


If you've stuck with my story and ramblings this far, thanks.  

Thanks for listening.  (And so the tears begin again...)

I look at her broken body in that picture and her mussed hair and only I know
the real pain and agony that is behind the image.  I was there that day and saw how 
pretty much any movement at all was a struggle and was painful.

There is so much more to these images than anyone else but those who were there
can ever get out of them.

I look at that face and think -- "Mom, I am in so deep right now.  I'm so busy, I'm so pushed at all sides, I have so many BIG questions in my life about what to do next, what to not do next... I wish I could ask you what YOU would do.  And I can't.  And I sooo wish I could."

So, I will ask, 
and then I will imagine what she would have said to me.  
That'll work, right?

I feel kind of like Meg Ryan's character in "You've Got Mail" when she longs to
be able to ask her mom what to do about her "Little Shop Around The Corner" bookstore
when it looks like the 'big-box' book store opening nearby will overshadow her store.

Ladies, if you're reading this and you still have your mama, give her a hug, then give 
her one for me.  They are priceless and like so many priceless things on this earth, we only
appreciate their value when they are gone.  

Let's purpose to at least try and change that
and begin valuing them while we still have them.  
It's much more fun that way.  :)

Well, my duties call -- Photoshop installations and all... (ICK).

Then, its off to get your magazines and orders shipped out to you.

Perhaps as I pack up the many, many orders going out today, I'll have that
chat with my mom (hope that doesn't sound weird) and we'll get this stuff all
figured out together.  Maybe solve world peace while we're at it.  :)

Now... do any of you have a clue about installing "actions" into your Photoshop program?

Ugh... I wish I had your zeal for this photography stuff.  
Me?  I just want a Sephora gift card for my birthday.  
(You could just as well give me a carburetor - either one would be as fascinating for me). 


Hey friends, seriously -- you were the first I thought of when all this "diversion" happened to me
about 1/2 an hour ago.  You mean a lot to me and I just wanted to share my heart.

Now I'm off to races for the day.

Wish me luck on my "actions" install.  If I get right, maybe you'll see some
"upgrades" in my pictures on my website.  If you don't -- you'll know I gave up 
somewhere between yelling at the computer and tossing my camera out the window.  ;)

And, here's to "diversions" in everyday life.

They are unexpected and at first bothersome,

yet sometimes
seem so divinely planned

 We can learn from them -- well,
there is potential to learn from them...
heart is

You are appreciated and oh so loved...



cityfarmer said...

oh Ruth, I remember this event in your life ... what wonderful words you expressed. I was transported right to the bedside.

I still have mama, but the other day I was reading
my daughters post on gardening (parisiennefarmgirl)

and my mind drifted towards my mom's mom and her love for the garden ... I started sobbing and I

could not stop ... she's been in glory now for 25 years or so, but all of a sudden I was transported

back to her yard as a kid ... watching her garden in her day dress, apron and black klunky shoes ... with nylons!

carry on ...

Claudia said...

Oh Ruth, sometimes a photo can unleash a painful memory and before you know it, tears are flowing. I know how much you miss your Mom. I still have my mother, but she is fading rather quickly and I have an ominous feeling about the months ahead. We love our Moms, don't we?


Cathy said...

I have come to the conclusion that we always want our mama. As Anna Quindlen says, there is something about living for nearly a year just beneath your mother's heartbeat. Blessings on you today, Ruth, as you long for your mom. And bright eyes raised upwards as you envision your reunion.

Simply Stated ~ Rebecca said...

Sending you BIG hugs Ruth.

.Twig. said...

Thank you so much for this post....I am crying too! :) You have a beautiful way with words and I am thinking of you. I'm gonna go hug my mom too :)

sweetpea said...

blessings and peace to you Ruth. your mom will always be there and lucky you that recognizes that. have a lovely day.



A Perfect Gray said...

a truly lovely piece. thank you for sharing your grief and your joy with us. I hope your grief is lessened and your joy is doubled.

thinking of you! Donna

Coleen said...

what a beautiful tribute...I can feel your pain.I did not want to take any hospital pictures...they are seared into my heart forever....

Heart Hugs,

BonjourRomance said...

Dear Ruth,
Beautifully said from the heart. Certain photos or a keepsake can really bring it all back. Remember the good times, and above all the fact that she is in Heaven and you'll see her again!! And enjoy every second with that sweet Dad of yours.
Big hug,

The Flying Bee said...

Oh Ruth,

I have tears falling as I write this...just from reading your words I can feel just how much you miss her. I have been going through some things and really needed my mom today, so I called her this morning. I am thinking of you today.


Preppy Mama said...

What a beautiful way to retell a painful memory. I am so sorry about your mom and I can't imagine how it feels. The strange thing is my grandmother died in January and when she was in the hospital we did the same thing. I had no idea why, but my dad was snapping pictures and she looked horrible. She was very vain. At 92 she was still putting on her pantyhose and makeup everyday! We look at the pictures and still can't believe she has passed and I still wonder why I have the photos on my camera! BTW, I mentioned you in my last post. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

sissie said...

Hello Ruth,
I don't always leave comments, but I try to visit your blog and read your posts. I always enjoy what you have to show and say.

You touched my heart so deeply with this post about your Mom.
My Mom passed away and the final days with her are somewhat of a blur. No photos to take me back, no pictures of her before she left us. In many ways you are fortunate to have that photo. Even though it hurts, it still can take you back to that special time when you realized that she meant more to you than anything else in the world. Sweet, bitter sweet memories.

Thank you for sharing your words are beautiful.


High Heeled Life said...

My dear friend.. know that your Mother is with you always ...I know without a shadow of a doubt - as I have been there and back. No matter how she may have looked in that picture she was and reamians the beautiful wonderful Mother that guided you through life.

When i was in a coma - and the doctors did not think I would make it.. my sister took many pictures - she wanted to hold onto to those moments - Life is a precious gift from heaven.

Sending hugs and blessings ..HHL

Gaia said...

What a touching post. Sending you big hugs from one mom to another ♡

sharon said...

I'm trying to stop crying & the weight is so deep & heavy. We've all been there or will be. This is why we take pics. when we can't imagine why. I believe you didn't happen on to this pic. by accident.
Hang on, remember the love, & talk to your mom.

Anonymous said...

I check your blogs every week, Ruth. I stop by and think of you even when you don't realize it. I pray for God to bless everything you put your hand to do, and then I go.

Today I clicked, it loaded, and there it was. I was with you the night you took these pics. I have them in my computer, too. Even though you have cropped this photo, I'd know that hand anywhere. Like it's the back of my hand. I have Mom's hands.

I have been slowly coming to terms with her death. I have been slowly allowing myself to break down and let it go. Actually, I couldn't help it if I wanted to. And I'm glad. I was starting to think less of myself for not being able to cry and let it go. I just couldn't then. That's all.

Thanks for this blog. I love you "muchly" and miss you terribly.

How's your Monday looking? Mine is completely open for you.

Love you, Ruth!


Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

Ruth, What a beautiful and touching post. I lost my mom seven years ago and I think of her every day. I'll say something or be somewhere and her memory will pop in my mind. I like to think mom has something to do with this.
Hugs, Sherry

NicNacManiac said...

WOW....powerful !!
I am having a party for my Mother next weekend as she turned 85 on Thursday, I will give her huge hugs and will reflect on all aspects of your beautiful post as I found myself so moved....I still am and I know your words will echo in my head for a long while!!
Be brave.....Mama's watchin!
xOxO Nerina

Martha said...

Oh Ruth that was beautiful....thank you for sharing and how wonderful some diversions seem to be sometimes {even though still and will always be painful for you} to bring back memories of your mother

Marion Williams-Bennett said...

This is such a beautiful post, and I've been wanting to comment on it for a while, but didn't have the right words.

I don't know if I do yet...

I love how you remember her last days with such tenderness and care.

I don't know if we ever get used to losing our Moms, and to not having them as part of our lives. I think we move forward, we grow, change, but the sadness of losing them will always be a part of us. Maybe, over time, it's less of us, but always with us.

peace and love to you, Ruth!