Do you feel like you’re constantly censoring yourself when you write about your experiences? You kinda have to, right, or you might sound like an emotional train wreck. My dad likely only has a few good years left. I’m scared to death about what life is going to be like without my parents. I miss them before they’re gone.
It terrifies me daily. It had been a constant stressor for me that I hadn’t ever attempted to take photos of them. It’s ridiculous how few photos have been taken of them, in general. By anyone. So this past weekend I FINALLY photographed my parents for the day (okay, maybe half a day because they talked to me so much).
I thought I would photograph them more than I actually did. During the shoot, I found myself getting sidetracked and focusing on the physical objects that they love because I know how proud they are of their favorite things. In fact, the majority of those photos I considered private because of those objects and didn’t want to post to social media. I was surprised by that but gained a new perspective. For the first, time I could see just how vulnerable you have to be in order to be photographed and to allow a photographer to post your photos in a public space. My parents are not used to sharing their lives on the internet and they can’t relate very well to it. My mom wouldn’t have been happy having her huge piles of papers on the table laid out for the world to see. They’re very private, and I wanted to respect that.
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My father is a gardener. He loves flowers. He talks about them endlessly. His obsession has rubbed off on me. I’m pretty sure one day we looked at hundreds of varieties of tulips together, detailing the minute differences between each one. It was amazing! He is also a health food store owner. He works way too much at the store. But it’s what he’s passionate about. It’s who he is. In the past few years my dad has slowly begun to lose his ability to walk because of a rare, irreversible brain condition. He was always an amazing athlete and incredibly active. This has been a hard transition for him, but he still manages to get to the gym a few times a week. He loves it. It was difficult emotionally for me to see him struggling to walk, but it felt good to be there with him. To be fully present and to give him my time.
My mother collects minerals and gemstones. She holds on to the past, looking at old photos and enjoying the beauty in sparkly things. It is beautiful. It brings me to tears. She is our family historian. She’s always telling me stories about our distant relatives. My mom also has a really close relationship with my daughter. She watches her two days a week, which fills my heart with incredible gratitude and joy.
Photos can bring so much joy, but sometimes I feel a sense of grief while I’m taking them, knowing that the moment won’t last.
My parents have rubbed off on me. I love gardening and rock collecting, too, and I feel incredibly proud to take on these characteristics of my parents. It’s painful to think that one day all I will have is these photos. But I am grateful for the ability to capture them.
Guest post writing and images are from Crystal Buckey.
About Crystal: Crystal Buckey is a storytelling photographer and creative director based out of St. Louis, MO. She is passionate about capturing authentic moments for families. Telling their unique story. The beautiful perfectly messy, real one.