The Photographer

This morning I went to retrieve personal items from a new client’s home who is now in a facility. Before everything goes to auction personal things need to be taken to him. I went in expecting the worst…complete chaos, disorder, and whatever else shows up when you deal with elderly clients stricken with dementia and brain injury.

It was surreal to see the neatness and orderly of this man. Things were picked up and left as when he was sent to the hospital. He was a photographer. I don’t know if this is what he did as a profession. He had cameras and other equipment around the house. There were pictures on the wall of some places but nothing personal. I searched for something…a story. I looked throughout his apartment for photos of a woman or a man or a dog. I craved to see love and loss because those are the colors of our lives. There were no albums or letters or anything indicating the existence of living there for twenty years. There were no footprints of his life. His drawers neat, his bedroom with a twin bed and two small nightstands. But, over all there was no proof of his journey which deeply saddened me as I scurried through his things.

He has no one. He now has a guardian. He has a staff at a facility. He has no legacy of folks who will sit with him and share his personal stories.

I sigh. Deeply and profoundly.

He is a sweet gentleman whose memories are being wiped clean. We wanted him to have something that he could hang onto. I found several old cameras and I grabbed them while leaving the expensive equipment to be sold in auction.

I retraced his life…I tried to desperately look for something that allowed a glimpse into his history. I searched through his cabinets noticing the placement of things as if he was photographing them…stacked and in rows.

What does this say about his life? Beneath all the minimalism there are stories of his likes and dislikes, his hobbies, his desires to see the world…. I don’t know. I can fill in the gray areas. I returned to the office with a car loaded of bare minimums. I don’t know if he enjoyed his life. I don’t know if he loved deeply. I don’t know anything about him except his cameras and the lenses…without traces of how he really viewed the world. My only clue is that he saw life through black and white with compositions of movement in orderly fashion.

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5 thoughts on “The Photographer

  1. I often think what perspective I would leave behind.. our things, our routines– pieces of a puzzle. “me”
    You do a very tough job. I am glad your clients have you– a very special person that has much respect for the life, for the person– love.

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