Three years ago today I lost my dad. When diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, we were told he only had a 30% chance of surviving the first round of chemotherapy and the doctors may be able to keep him alive for 18 months to 2 years. He battled AML for almost five years and endured over 40 rounds of chemotherapy and dozens of units of blood and platelets during that time. It wasn’t if I would receive that dreaded call, but when. In 2009 I chose to put my camera down. Why? Because in Arizona cell phone signals aren’t always the best. I didn’t want to be somewhere and not get the call to get on a plane.
It was 10:52 a.m. when my phone rang at work and it was my sister. I thought she was calling to tell me she had a new grandchild. The tone of her voice told me it wasn’t going to be a good conversation. They were at the hospital with my dad and it didn’t look good. I immediately left work and went home to try to get on a plane. Th midwest was having a blizzard and my chances of getting on a flight were unknown. I had all of my dad’s photos of when he was young so I had to take them with me. I had been mentally preparing for this day and had the photos ready.
Upon arriving at the airport it was announced my flight was under a weather alert. I checked in and went to the gate and waited. During my trip to the airport and while waiting at the gate I had many phone calls with my sister. My nephew would be picking me up at the airport and taking me at least halfway to my hometown. My sister and I had just hung up from one of our calls and my phone rang again. It was my sister again and I thought she must have hit redial by accident. It was the final call, dad was gone. In all of my mental preparation, it never occurred to me I would be sitting in an airport alone when that call would come. All I could do was try to hold it together as I had several calls to make. The first to my husband who was still driving home from dropping me off at the airport. After several calls I had to turn my phone off. I just needed a few minutes of peace.
My flight wasn’t cancelled and when arriving it was barely double digit temperatures, snowing and quite windy. My nephew had his truck warm and the seat warmer turned on for me. Blizzard conditions and I didn’t even have a coat. We drove about halfway home and my brother and sister-in-law met us to take me the rest of the way home.
The next several days there were many arrangements and decisions to make. During this whole time my brother, sister and I never argued. So many siblings argue at a time like this, but not us.
It was very cold that week as is typical for winter in the Midwest. One day one of my aunt’s mentioned how I seemed to be handling the cold well. I replied, “You know, you seem to have forgotten I grew up here and this is nothing I haven’t experienced before.” We laughed about it. The next day it was time for me to head back to my home in Arizona. Another blizzard and unknown if my flight would take off. It did, after the plane was de-iced twice!
My birthday and my dad’s birthday were just three days apart. Some year’s my birthday falls on Father’s Day. Those days will never be the same.
It was now time to pick up my camera again. My photography journey would start in Maine. And what a journey it has been!