Monday, November 03, 2008

West Coast Lady

How lucky to have photographed this West Coast Lady (Vanessa annabella) on Sunday, our first day back at the coast after our long journey south. So much can transpire in such a short amount of time. Realizations about age and life, about strength and desire, about expectations and disappointments. Against the backdrop of one of the most important elections of several generations, we confront the personal, the smallest facets of what it means to be human, to grow old, to have to summon from one's deepest reserves the simplest energy to merely go on.

Beautiful West Coast Lady, when I see of you, I think of my mother who started life as an east coast lady, but who now lives here on the edge of time before it shifts to tomorrow, in shades of light and darkness that shape everything. I look at your beautiful wings and remember the bad knee on her good leg that must support the shattered ankle on the bad. So much pain. Is this how all things must finally go?

On Halloween in Leisure World, the gated retirement community where my mother lives, the retired gatekeepers were dressed as a nun and the good witch of the north. The good witch waved her wand and said, "Welcome to the Land of Oz."

Then she said, "No, really this is the land of Was."


It is the Land of Was.

For a moment I thought of all the graveyards and of all the ashes scattered in the four directions-- all those artificial hips and artificial knees that promised everything, but most importantly, a future.

We left my mother in the kind, capable, and good hands of Nening, a woman from the Philippines, who in her own country was a civil engineer. We interviewed four home care agencies before we found this gentle, caring woman. When she came into my mother's bedroom, she and my mother hugged right away. It was the sign we were waiting for.

We're trying to figure out what it means to be human. No culture, no community, no history. We make it up as we go along. There are no reality TV shows about this. We are all that there is.



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