A morning with Mom

I needed to go out and shoot this morning and I asked Mom if she wanted to join me.  She was enthusiastic and ready to go.  She was much lighter now and feeling much, much better.  We went down to Fall Creek this morning.


Mom was an observer rather than a participant today.  She never had much luck with a camera and it was more enjoyable for her to just be out than it was to take pictures.  I didn’t argue because I remember the history of Mom’s battles with the camera.  Here is one example taken during World War II.  This is my younger brother and me.  Our Dad was off in the Pacific with the Navy and Mom wanted to send him a picture of his boys.  We were decked out in our winter gear and facing the camera.  Mom fidgeted with that infernal machine and after a few minutes Rob and I got more interested in what was behind us.  Mom meanwhile was either so intent on the mechanics of picture taking that she didn’t notice which way we were facing or she just gave up.

Over the years her skill at cooking, raising two boys, participating in community life, playing the piano and many other things all improved but her picture taking didn’t.  So I was happy for her to just be along for the experience this morning.  So was she.


We were out before it was too hot but I still needed a headband.  Good thing to have in this weather.  So the water looked especially inviting.


I have to tell you that Mom died in body if not in spirit this morning at 3:00.  She was 95 years old and her body had been shutting down over the last few weeks.  She was not ambulatory for the last week or so.  So last night her body finished its task and closed down.  I was called at 3:15 and I went over.  She was at peace.  The last thing to go was her smile.  This was her trademark.  Before she was so ill I would take her for rides in a wheelchair around Westminster Village North where she lived.  It is a sizable facility and there are lots of people.  But just about everyone knew Clara Lively because as I wheeled her around she gave everyone a cheery wave and a ‘Hello, dear!’  People would light up when they saw her coming.  And the smile lasted to the end.


My way of coping includes going out to shoot.  Before I set out this morning I thought I would love to have Mom go with me in spirit if by no other means.  And I got the feeling that she would have loved to go too.  So she was with me.  Walking along Fall Creek we came to the I465 bridge over the creek.  It is a substantial bridge and large enough that the light under it is quite diffuse and often interesting.  There was a strip of rocks which would guide rain water away from the base of the bridge and usually there are leaves and other random objects there and they can be interesting to photograph.  I looked all along the strip of rocks and there was nothing else there but the feather above.  Nothing particularly remarkable about a feather being there.  Except that there was nothing else of interest.  And Mom’s nickname since she was small was Bird.


I think Mom and I will go shooting again.  Maybe tomorrow.

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14 thoughts on “A morning with Mom

  1. Lovely tribute, Barry. She definitely was with you! You had her a long time. I hope she didn’t suffer, but just went quietly in her sleep. God bless you and the family.

  2. My eyes have filled with tears as I read your wonderful tribute so delicately written with the spirit of your mother within you. I don’t have wonder if she would enjoy wandering with you and your camera….the feather speaks.

  3. This is a very touching and poignant tribute to your mother. Very beautiful photos as well. Our mothers truly never leave us, do they? Maybe the feather really was a sign from above and an official good-bye of sorts. My heart goes out to you and your family because I know that no matter how old our parents are when they leave this world, it still leaves a hole. God bless you all!

  4. Barry..this is a wonderful tribute to your mom. I am sure that you spent many afternoons showing her your work and telling her about your feelings as you shot your beautiful images. I am sure that they are with her now as well. Although my mom wasn’t nicknamed Bird, her favorite bird was the Cardinal and I saw one right before she died. I have a pair now that nest in my yard and I always think of her.

  5. How wonderful that your Mom didn’t have much luck with a camera so you could have her share as well as your own! I guess her generosity of spirit extended beyond that sunny smile. She always seemed to be saying, “That’s nice, dear,” in such an encouraging way. I suspect that spirit will continue to be with you always.

  6. So sorry for your loss, Barry. I have no doubt that you will feel her presence on many more shoots. She will always be near to those she loved.

  7. What you were unable to express through written words came through with the beautiful images. Your mother had a keen eye, maybe not with a camera but with the eyes God gives to all good mothers. She was blessed to have a son like you and you were blessed to have a mom like her.

  8. Beautiful tribute. I was away at girlscout camp last week and just got the e-mail. My heart is sad. I will miss her “i SAID NO,dear. And her “OH you are so you” I remember a year ago when I came back from my heart surg. she asked me where I had been. Now whether she really knew I had been gone or not the smile and hug were genuine. I am glad I got to know “Bird” Lively!

  9. Pingback: Good day to be out « Spirit and Seeing

  10. Barry, What a beautiful tribute to your mother! It does make me feel confident about the days ahead for you. I also love the picture of her that you included. Such a great sense of humor and that wonderful smile. Thank you, Mary Lee

  11. Barry, I’ll repeat here what I told you on the phone when we spoke: As someone pointed out to me when my own dear Mother died, when a son’s Mother dies, he loses more than a dear parent; he also loses the president of his fan club. So the fact that she could only manage to photograph the young Barry and Rob from behind may be a significant metaphor, for she was behind you both all the way. May the time when the pain of losing her is replaced by the joy of remembering her come for you soon.

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