Friday, February 24, 2006
In Memoriam #1
Within a time frame of 2 years, 3 of my nuclear family members died. In year-chronology, my dad was first, followed a year later by Bennett, and a year later by Mom. In month/day-chronology, Bennett was first and thus the #1.
Of the 8 kids in my family, Bennett, 3 years my junior, is the only one who has died. Ten years ago today, at age 47, he had a heart attack while cleaning out Mom and Dad's garage in preparation for the selling of their house in Michigan. Dad had just died the year before; Mom was in assisted-living with Alzheimer's. We never told Mom that Bennett had died but just before his funeral, she went up to one of his photos hanging on her wall and patted it with her hand as though she knew. Maybe she did!
Bennett was the only one of us who had never married or had children. He was, for me, a good mix of bohemian and renaissance man, as seen mostly in his photography. And talk about a perfectionist! Though he taught photography at Lansing Community College and had his own dark room and mat-making equipment for his professional photos shown around town, he could always give you a reason why any given photo could have been improved (I guess I come by it naturally!).
Last Friday, Merlin Princess was explaining to me the difference between solarization and posterization in a post. I told her that I was familiar with posterization because Bennett played around with it in his lab, putting layers of color through his negatives like silk-screening. We always loved seeing what he'd come up with.
But it was his scenic photos while traveling around as a senior-citizen tour bus-driver/guide that captured my heart. He loved Prince Edward Island (Anne of Green Gables!) and Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia. Or Jerusalem, when he went one year with Mom and Dad. He was the expert at capturing the right angle or correct light. I wonder, of course, what he'd do today with all our digital cameras. And would he be blogging? He had his own special community of like-minded souls at his neighborhood tavern, talking and drinking into the wee hours of the night, so maybe he wouldn't have needed to blog.
His other interest, besides photography, was community theatre. I regret, however, that I never had a chance to see him act. All I have are the pictures. He was one of the townsmen in Fiddler On the Roof. What a great play for him because he certainly looked the part, didn't he! (What you DON'T see is that his hair was carrot red!)
Here's a neat little story to go with the one photo of his that will always remain my favorite. He had taken a picture of this grasshopper at sunrise/sunset (how appropriate for Fiddler On the Roof...a connection I just now made!) with the appropriate colors coming through (which did not do well in my scan so I have grayscaled it). The day of his funeral, which was on his property where he was building a log cabin, my sister Ruth and her husband looked down at the grass and noticed a grasshopper sitting on a blade of grass. There he was, with us in Spirit!
And remains so today as we celebrate his life amongst us. I love you, Bennett. Little did you know then that your photography would one day inspire me. But I guess you know by now! I know you're resting in peace, just as restlessly as ever, I'm sure. Say HI to Mom and Dad, who'll have their own memoriams in the next days to come....