Friday, March 18, 2011
Shooting my dad's grave
What it is...
Duvernay, QC, November 2010
This photo - of my late father's footstone - isn't the easiest image to share, but I've been sitting on it since I first took it, wondering when I'd feel "right" in posting it here. I don't think I'll ever feel absolutely comfortable doing so, mind you, but I've learned that you can't always wait until everything aligns before you move forward. Sometimes, you just have to get up and move, even if every excuse on the planet is screaming in your ears to keep waiting.
More broadly, I'm not entirely sure members of my extended family would agree that sharing this is "right", either. But I've also learned since losing him that following my own voice matters now more than ever. And if that means this, then so be it.
We use the word "late" to describe those who are no longer with us. I'm not entirely sure why, and when I was a kid it always threw me off to hear the term. I remember thinking my Uncle Harry wasn't late, he was gone. It struck me as needlessly euphemistic and bothersome to conjure up words that tried to soften the blow, but only ended up muddying my ability to understand the vagaries of life and death.
When I write, I use simple language. I can out-vocabulary the most ardent dictionary-reader, but I choose to keep it stark and focused because, let's face it, everyone resents a know-it-all. I hate tangents and I have little patience for those who insist on taking me on them. So when it's my turn to tell the story, the straight line serves me best. Terms like "late" and "dearly departed" don't ease the process for me. They annoy me to no end, forcing me to watch others come up with ways to make sure I'm not offended or upset in some way.
I appreciate the sentiment. But the truth is my father died, and life has changed immensely since then. I'm okay with looking back and calling it what it is. And when I look at this stark-as-stark-can-be moment, I'm ripped right back to the moment on a brilliant November morning when I took it. Standing over his grave, I wondered what he'd think of his son taking a picture like this.
I heard his voice cheerfully ribbing me for "wasting film". I smiled, tripped the shutter and headed back to the car.
Your turn: Inappropriate photography. Please discuss.