It has been over a month since my Grandmother has passed away. Not being home possibly removes the pain of having to be reminded of such a tremendous loss. However, processing this is just as important. Losing a family member can bring about a lot of different emotions. I have learned to process death differently as a Paramedic. I have heard the cries of mothers losing their children. I have seen the look of disbelief when trying to explain to family or friends that their loved one is not going to make it or has already passed and there is nothing else we can do to revive them. And although death is incredibly difficult to wrap my mind around, it is something I have learned to accept despite my gut screaming against it.
Mami Celi (as she was known by) was a resilient woman. She was born and raised in Peru as the last child of her siblings. She was very much not planned which blows my mind to my own existence. However she lived a fierce life. If any one showed me what unconditional love looked like it was her. Although she spoke spanish and I english she communicated love in a way that anyone could understand it. She sacrificed, she protected, she gave you whatever she had to make you feel welcomed. Everyone belonged at her table. My Mami Celi was stubborn and feisty at times. Perhaps I gleaned this from her. She was creative and loved to crochet.
Mami Celi had passed with a disease that is far too familiar to too many families, Alzheimer’s. Her understanding of the present was disappearing as the days went by. My visitations became Shorter as she could not recognize me. Eating became a distant ability as well as self care. My mother, her daughter, paved the way in what total and complete care looks like. What it is to feed your mother and clean her with love and tenderness. This was not an easy task by any means. My Grandmothers brain reverted back to a time no one would understand. A time in Peru that was not as rich and vibrant and relationships that were driven from a place of pain. Not all memories are as glorious as we hope and my mother had to choose to love her despite her own mothers confused state of mind. I can not applaud her enough for the task that was placed before her. For the example she gave in passing on the legend my Grandmother had taught her as a child. What it is like to serve those you love no matter how easy or hard it is.
While visiting home for Mami Celi’s 89th birthday the entire family came to wish her well, as we knew this may be the last birthday we will be celebrating. At this time my Grandmother had very short moments of recognition and understanding of what was becominging of herself. I came home with my camera with the focus to capture her and the family. To hold onto memories that mattered.
I will never forget this moment, as I stood from the hallway observing what was unfolding before me. I was moved. My mother was helping my Grandmother get ready for her big day. Family from ALL over the country would come to celebrate. As she was helping my Grandmother with her hair, my Grandmother looked up and recognized my mother for the first time that day. As tears rolled down Mami Celi’s face she grabbed her daughter and held her. Knowing that this moment was fleeting, she kissed her face and spoke into her words of love. My mother wiped her tears and reassured her that she is ok, and that people were here to celebrate and honor her today. This friends, is why I am passionate about capturing moments that matter.
My grandmother passed away peacefully with her children at her side at home. The process of the body passing is not an easy one. But my mother kept her comfortable and pain free. My grandmother passed away leaving behind the Fernandez name. My Grandmother passed away leaving behind her three sons and one daughter. My Grandmother passed away leaving behind an example of strength, courage and a fierce ability to love despite circumstance. She may have passed but her story is still with us.
I am a professional photographer that longs to capture your story and the legend that comes with it. Whether it is the story of your children, parents or friends your story matters. Your time here matters. This photo now hangs in my mother’s house as a reminder. A reminder of a mothers love and acceptance. It reminds everyone that we are each welcome to the table despite our choices. It reminds us of unconditional love.
What is your story? What will your children have to look back to? Let us help capture that for you and for the generations to come.