Sunday, February 10, 2008

Georgianne Virginia Hernandez 10-24-46 to 2-10-06



Today marks two years since my Mom died. At 1:30 p.m. to be exact.

I decided to make a slide show of all of the pictures I took during her last week and share them and in doing this I now finally feel like the proverbial weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders.

I think that in keeping them private I was locking away some of my grief, that now I need to let go.

This slide show isn't for everyone. My family is not really the norm- we embrace death in a way that is different from most, I think. My older sisters did my Mom's hair and makeup and nails for her wake; we had altars set up at my house and at the memorial and laughed openly about things, and cried just as openly. And we all took pictures. Pictures of everything- picking my sister Saca up at the train; all of our most intimate moments with my Mom I was there shooting with my Dad and Aunt- and it was the norm. If I hadn't been shooting it would have been weird. My family has always expressed themselves through art, photography mostly. I am so happy for that and comforted by it now, though in looking through it all I am overwhelmed with sadness and feel like it was just yesterday.

Photographs are pretty powerful stuff.

I also am sharing what I read at my Mom's memorial. I still can't believe that I had the guts to get up there and be so emotionally raw in front of so many people, sharing how I felt about my Mom. I remember knowing I wanted to share and the words not coming to me... I had the worst case of writer's block. Then all of a sudden it hit me, I grabbed paper and a pencil and just wrote as fast as I could get it out in one sitting.

Reading that was one of the hardest things I have had to do- I couldn't hide behind my camera (although I did grab a shot when I got up there of everyone) It was just me and my grief for all to see.

The other hardest thing was bringing Jack & Georgie in to say goodbye to my Mom. I was a wreck. They were kind of oblivious, I mean me crying was par for the course for them, my Mom was sick for so long it was just another day of Mommy sobbing her eyes out, you know? Those pictures are some of my favorites and I am so glad my sister Tere got those for me.

Mom, I miss you. I am not mad at you anymore for getting sick and leaving... come back and haunt me soon though, I need a good scare.


**********************

'My Mom has been sick for years. She has been in and out of the hospital, in the ICU for months at a time- on the brink of death but then miraculously recovering. See, she was always slow to respond.
When I used to want to sleep over Dodie’s house on Friday I’d have to start asking my Mom on Monday. I knew I had a chance if she ignored me- it was when she said ‘Go ask your father’ that I knew the answer was no.
So I’d badger away, knowing full well when to stop, when she was almost at her limit. I’d retreat, regroup, and then badger her enough for her to be glad to be rid of me. I have two small children and I’ll be honest, with nine, why wouldn’t my Mom jump at the chance to get rid of even one? Seriously.

And so this theme followed with her being sick, getting sicker and sicker and then recovering. She was so strong for so long but after years of this her body just couldn’t keep fighting. Now if her personality had taken over the fight she would be here forever. That woman could be sassy!

And so it came that we all were there on Friday with her, touching her, stroking her hair as she died. She was so peaceful and so loved by everyone there with her.

In dying my Mom released in us the power to forgive. I was surrounded by my family and friends and people who truly loved my Mom- all grudges and misunderstandings falling to the wayside.

She would have been so proud.

My Mother embodied the idea of forgiveness. Many people may think they are capable of it but believe me, if it were an Olympic event my Mother would medal. She always rooted for the underdog and I would tease her endlessly about it. It used to bother me, in all honesty, because I got good grades, made friends easily and basically was a good kid who did well. As a mother myself I can clearly see that my Mom had the capacity to gauge my strength and know that I was capable of taking care of myself so she could tend to those who needed her more. In doing this she nurtured and created in my brothers and sisters the capacity to love themselves, their families and their friends. Without the hard and true devotion of my Mom, who was relentless in her quest for supporting, loving and bettering each and every one of us, who knows where we would all be.

But here we all are. Together, reminiscing about her and her crazy ways.

At her wake I stopped and looked around at all of the familiar and unfamiliar faces and thought- this was just what it was like at her house- I’d come home from college and there’d be some guy sleeping on the couch who I didn’t know who had gotten kicked out of his house and needed a place to sleep and feel safe. All of our friends knew they had this safe haven to turn to in my Mom, whether it was an actual place to rest their feet or a shoulder to cry on. She was their rock, too.


Sometimes my Mom had a hard time making decisions. There was one time she couldn’t choose which nail polish to wear so she painted each nail a different color. In doing this her hands came to represent the life she lived, multicolored, beautiful and truly indicative of her nature. I am sure she even made each nail polish color believe she liked them best…. As she did with her children as well.

We all believe on some level that we are her favorite. She was able to see deeply and clearly into each one of us and see our good, true being. I used to tease her about this by signing my letters ‘your favorite daughter’ and before caller id I’d call her and whoever would hand her the phone would say ‘it’s your favorite daughter.’ Then I’d wait to get her on to see who’d she think it was.

It was our little game.

This is the true testament and legacy that my Mom leaves us… we all still truly believe that we are her favorite.

But really, I was.

24 comments:

nikki nicole photography said...

wow very powerful. my thoughts are with you today

Tere @ My Precious Studio said...

thanks sweetie. it's still so incredibly vivid and the photos only add to that. beautifully done.
love, mom's favorite

Rnormfoto said...

OK then---you've got me all weepy. That was really something...i'm not sure how you did all you did as far as shooting. Both my parents had open caskets and I wanted to stay as far away from them as possible--i can't stand that whole process...it doesn't work for me. But these shots are incredible, and in some ways i wish I had the guts to have taken some during my similar experiences.

Studio Foto said...

What do I say...Amazing, Beautiful, Love. I love you Carla, and you know am am crying with you.

Paul

Jaime said...

Thanks for sharing those. Please don't ever stop. I only wish you had documented Chi Chi's Billie Jean moment. However, the story you told is so good that I feel like I was there with you in your kitchen.

Much love to you.

Jerome said...

Thank you SO much for sharing that. wow. I hope I have the guts to shoot when that time might come. It's so valuable, but so extremely difficult. xoxo

Robin Dini Photography said...

carla, you are beautiful. every image and every word of this entire experience speak volumes of who you are, and you are just like your mom. i never had the chance to meet her, but being in her/your home and hearing all of the stories about her have given me an idea of what a wonderful and inspiring person she was in your life. different colored nail polish...that is so like you. i read that and immediately thought about your color palate for your studio. the day you told me about what colors you were thinking about, your eyes lit up and you're creative gears were moving, but yet still torn on what to choose :)

thank you for sharing. love you!

Orchard Cove Photography said...

What an inspiring and moving tribute to your Mom - I'm glad you shared that. I loved the end with the little wee ones and all their hope, happiness, and laughter. Thinking of you today. xoxo

STEVE DePINO said...

Incredibly moving

talia@sixpence said...

wow carla, i am in awe of your strength, emotion, and courage to share such a private time in your life. Like the incredible photographer you are, you were able to turn something so difficult and so sad into something so beautiful. Your pictures and story are so moving and powerful. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Jacob Bergmeier said...

It takes a special person to share their deepest feelings as you have done here. Your whole family will be in my prayers tonight.

etbroderick said...

Carla--so moving. I only read the text today. I am not sure I can handle the pictures tonight. I am feeling a little fragile, but I know when I see them how beautiful they will be and how incredibly meaningful they are. Your words from her service were so touching and made me wish I had known your Mom. You have a special family. Thank you for sharing. I will be praying for you and your family...

Eileen Broderick

Carla Ten Eyck said...

thank you guys so much for your kind words... it means so much to know I have such an incredible support network out there, whether you posted or not, I know that you got a little bit of what made her special.

To me, that makes it all worth it.

To know that she is not forgotten, and that some part of her will still live on...

xxxooo

Davina said...

Carla, you are an amazing woman. Touching images and even more wonderful words. You are an inspiration to me in the way you live and see. Your mother is an inspiration to me in the way she lived and in the way she loved and in the way she forgave. Really beautiful, Carla. I miss you.

Eric Foley said...

That was beautiful Carla, I'm sure your mother is smiling as she watches along!

petunia said...

Oh Carla, that was absolutely beautiful.
Love,
Amy

Krystal said...

Carla I'm sending you a big virtual hug....I wish was I were there to help comfort you. That was the most beautiful slideshow I think I've ever seen- I couldn't stop crying (both tears of sadness and joy). So moving and inspiring, just like you and your mom are to so many of us. I love how you put your little monkeys in there at the end, like Amanda said. I only wish I had known your mom, but through your words and images I feel like I did.

love always, Krystal

alubia said...

without words to tell you how this speaks for all of us who love you and your family. jw

SAM said...

Hey Carla - Wow. I am thinking of you always...and I know your Mom is proud of you...and smiling down on you, for sure. As a member of the DMC, I feel your pain, and celebrate your memories. Hugs and Kleenex...Sue Ann

Autumn said...

Truly inspirational and touching, Carla. My thoughts are with you on this anniversary. I probably shouldn't have read and watched this today though - I've had tears streaming down my face steadily for the last 10 minutes and they're still coming! BIG HUGS. Love you!

JAG Studios said...

shit carla, I haven't cried that hard in a long time. no words, just tears. You are one powerful woman.

Jeannine Jersey said...

thank you for sharing...i can absolutely relate! i played a similar game with my mom...and still do with my dad. :)

i think you are more like your mom than you realize! you make everyone you shoot feel like they are absolutely THE best thing ever! or at least you did with me...

thanks again for sharing...see you soon! jeannine

k said...

hello. i'm a friend of Tere's and she directed me to that really exquisite tribute. (I also checked out the fire-throwing shots and you are truly gifted). Please tell me.. who does that song you used here?

Meg said...

Although I look at your blog regularly, I have never posted before. This post was so moving, though, I had to write. I'm sitting here, with late-night TV on in the background, practically in tears. Your images were so touching and intimate and I feel honored that you would share them. When my grandfather was dying, I so badly wanted to document it, him, with photos. He was so frail, so ready to leave us, and we loved him so much. However, I was too scared that the rest of my family would have found my behavior inappropriate - they wouldn't have wanted my grandfather photographed like that and they wouldn't have wanted their grief captured so permanently. Every once in a while, though, I wish I had just done it. You and your family will have these photos forever. Again, thanks for sharing them. Thank you.