Death, life, and the gray we go through when combined

Tomorrow morning, a post will be showing up about my Uncle Clyde Wilson. He passed away earlier this month after a long battle of illnesses before an aggressive cancer set in to be what we all knew was the end.

I visited Clyde two times since I knew was truly sick, but only once after he was diagnosed with cancer and given a week to live. He died a week and a half after I saw him. Sometimes I get so frustrated with college and work and that I have to be in one place when I should be in the other. Sometimes it seems so diabolical for something as empty as a midterm or test to keep us from coming home to see someone who only has a few days left in their life. And even though I’ve been through this before, I let it happen again.

You’re going to see pictures of the last time I saw Clyde alive. These pictures carry a lot of weight for me and my family. When I took my camera to his house, my sister told me, “You better not start taking pictures.” That seems natural. To feel that a situation is too sensitive to invade with a camera. And I agree that there are times when you probably shouldn’t. I didn’t shoot Clyde’s funeral, but it’s something I’m regretting more and more as I’ve worked on the pictures of him alive.

I did photograph my visit to Clyde’s home. Some of the photos are saddening, and some are quirky and fun. Walking back to my grandparents house, I explained to her that I didn’t shoot pictures because I didn’t care or didn’t have any respect. If I don’t have any respect or care for something, then I’m not going to shoot pictures. This was an important moment in life. Not only Clyde’s, or his wife Dean’s, but life for all of us.

In my lack of finding how to say what I feel, I turn to the person who has written a book on these types of situations. My mentor, friend and probably favorite photographer, Dave LaBelle, sums it all up with a paragraph from his book, “Lessons in Death and Life”.

“Some suggest that if photographers really cared about the dying, they would leave their cameras at home. The fact is, I have often visited the dying without my cameras. But documenting their journey on film doesn’t lessen my care for them. Photography has been the door through which I enter a person’s life and say, ‘Hello, I care about you.”

To those who question my motives on publishing Clyde’s story, I say to you: It’s not that I don’t care. I love Dean and would never want to hurt her. Dean is a great person and Clyde was always kind. I wish I could have known him more. But now that he’s gone, all I can do is help a few others learn about his life.

Between the lines:
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In the second paragraph you may have noticed that I said I let it happen again. After my freshman year of college I went through an emotional time with a loved one I always knew as Mama Grace. She passed away that summer, shortly after her husband, Virgil, died. Her wish was that we wouldn’t forget her. Click here to read the post.
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One Response to “Death, life, and the gray we go through when combined”

  1. Very well said, Brad, I miss Clyde too. Your mother and I did try to do some things to help him and make him feel better. Life has some sad times in it. Thanks, Sheila

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