Beauty of the Elderly

Last week I dreamt of Papaw, the first time since his death. Part one of my dream was funny and very unlike his grandfatherly character. He knocked on my door. I opened to find a younger Papaw in his old, light blue coveralls, an irritated expression on his kind face. He said, "Turn down your computer - it's too loud!" An omen I spend too much time on the MacBook, perhaps?

The next scene was my grandfather, spot on. He lounged on an old tweed, plaid couch watching TV. His second wife (my Nana), beside him. Oh, how I've missed her! I walked in the room. Papaw looked up and smiled softly. He said, "Are you tired and scared?" I felt myself nod, "Yes." He then said, "Come here and rest with me awhile." I obeyed and felt safe. I opened my eyes from that dream, smiling. I loved that man so deeply; it was good to see his face.

He and my other grandparents instilled within me a great, respectful awe for the elderly, especially those who have learned the art of contentment. Papaw mastered satisfaction, and when I'm able to visit the nursing home, I marvel at content souls smiling from each bed. Such men and women with years under their belts possess elegance, grace, wisdom, gratitude, strength, good jokes, and a book's worth of fascinating stories.

And so I was intrigued by photographs from The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings, featured on both The Glass Doorknob and simply photo. Jen of simply photo also interviewed the photographer, KayLynn Deveney. I tried to wait, but I gave in pretty quickly and placed an order. My copy of the lovely book arrived yesterday in an Amazon box.

"I met Albert Hastings in 2001 when we lived in the same neighborhood in southern Wales. ... As my photographic studies have evolved I have increasingly focused on ideas and depictions of home. I often seek in my photographs the banal moments of the day - the experiences not usually considered significant enough to warrant a snapshot - the quiet clean up after the birthday party ends or the hour before we go to bed. I look, too, for domestic patterns and arrangements, practiced daily routines that make us feel at home or that confirm - or conform to - our ideas of what home should be."
(from the introduction by Deveney)

I gazed at every single page last night, and the book hasn't been far from my reach today. Albert Hastings is such a charming man. Each of Deveney's photographs exude precisely what I admire in the elderly: beauty, and sophisticated simplicity of the objects they choose to place nearby, in their line of sight. Mr. Hasting's handwritten descriptions are located beneath each photograph and the book also includes his poetry, clock drawings, and personal family photos. Many of the book's pictures/captions are revealed here (including one of my favorites), but those images are only the beginning. I've been known to promote book-buying and I certainly recommend Deveney's book, quite highly. For all the books we own, we need to own more photography. I hope that KayLynn will also publish a book of these sweet, desolate photographs: Edith and Len.

1 comment:

Christine said...

Gosh, those photos are beautiful. I've seen that book featured on those blogs too. I might just have to get it!