My mother died on June 23, 2013 at the age of 86. During the last five months of her life she suffered a progressive decline in her health and in the end became bedridden and helpless. Within this period I visited my mother several times in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she was living with my father in the home I grew up in. I realized our time together was coming to an end. I was compelled to photograph my mother and objects in the house that reminded me of her. I wanted to create something tangible that would connect me to my mother when my memories of her would start to fade. I also photographed my father during his last weeks with my mother and shortly after her death. My ability to see this familiar environment with a fresh perspective was my mother’s last gift to me.
My mother always used perfume in lieu of deodorant. She would typically douse herself with perfume before going out to a concert or dinner. As a youngster, I remember getting into the car to leave for our destination and feeling like I was going to be asphyxiated by the pungent smell of my mother's perfume.
A bird bath and feeder were strategically placed outside the kitchen patio door so my mom could watch the birds as she ate her meals. She took great joy in observing the abundance of wild life that visited this little oasis.
Towards the end of my mom’s life, she retreated into herself and was not very responsive to our presence. One morning my dad reminisced with her in the hopes of drawing her out. He asked her if she knew which photograph of the two of them was his favorite. Although my mom did not respond, my dad spoke to her about the photo taken on the beach in Puerto Rico shortly after they had been married
As a child, my mother’s button box was magical to me. I would open it and finger all the beautifully colored buttons and imagine the garments they once adorned. This assortment of buttons was collected over a period of 60 years. This was the last time my mother and I were able to collaborate in the creation of a photograph.
My dad promised my mother that he would not place her in a nursing home when her health deteriorated. When Hospice took over my mother's care, we set up a place for her in the den right next to the kitchen. The kitchen is a place where my dad spends a good portion of his day and it minimized my mother's isolation.