• ashirk@gmail.com
  • Kijabe, Kenya
On Time Machines

On Time Machines

This was a tough Mother’s Day by any measure. It’s always hard being away from Arianna and the girls, especially during an emotional time.

I spent several hours with Mom. She is recovering physically, but she doesn’t recognize me. When asked her age, she will say 15 years old.

One bright spot was digging through old pictures and finding some absolute treasures. Mom, young and beautiful. Pictures of her parents, newlyweds and very much in love.

I am not the first photographer in my family, nor will I be the last. There are striking pictures dating back to 80 years ago, absolutely beautiful.

The greatest tool in photography is not a certain camera or lens, film or flash. These can make a picture look nice, but the greatest tool is time.

Time can turn an ordinary picture into a miraculous one, especially in moments like this, with albums strewn about the floor, discovering parts of my history I have never seen.

My grandparents were very reserved when I knew them, definitely not ones to show public affection. To see the foundations of love in photographs, at the start of their 50+ years together is amazing.

Light. . .the word that I think when I look at my Mother and Grandmother in these photographs. Young and light, before the heaviness that fell upon them. I think, to hear Mom describe it, her brother’s death was a severe blow to the family. Then my father’s death.

I knew my grandmother as a brilliant, witty woman. She would laugh, she was good to us. But there is a gentleness and freedom in these pictures that I did not remember. . .save the moment on our wedding day when she decided to dance!

Though we can’t really communicate with Mom beyond a few sentences, I do feel blessed to have had a chance to climb into the time machine. It’s a way to communicate in a different way, and a profound one for me.

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