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The Last Picture Show; An End of Life Portrait

A collection of photographs documenting the last year in my father’s life. I always believed that our memories inform our personality and that the inability to remember would change and erase ones “persona”. However, spending the last year of my father’s life by his side as he suffered from progressive dementia, changed both my perceptions and my expectations about this notion.

To put it mildly, my father George loved old movies, especially the genre known as Film Noir. Born in 1927 his quirky sense of humor was defined early on by his love for the language, persona and style of those early film characters. In these photographs I reflect upon the surreal component that defined my father’s existence in that last year as he struggled through a progressing veil of dementia. Each image is a glimpse into his strong, yet ever increasingly vulnerable personality. My father literally began to inhabit a world where the blurred lines of reality and illusion were gradually melding together. However, through it all he was clear on one thing: his choice to die, when, where and how by refusing all food and only minimal fluids for comfort. He said it was, “part of his plan” and not our choice to make. Ten days later he faded this life in a very gentle, accepting way.

A life-long hypnotist and jazz pianist, with an edge for the dramatic, my father truly embodied the film genre he loved so much, right up until the day he died. It was as though he choreographed it all, and I was merely the vehicle in which to tell his story. This series of portraits documents my father’s many moods, alter egos and moments in between during this bittersweet yet surprisingly enlightening journey.

#GeorgeMyDadInTheHat (instagram) initiated (and continues) a dialogue with others, many also touched by Alzheimer’s and progressive dementia.

 

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