Mum

Mum

by John Anderson

I like the idea that my photographs tell a story – maybe without the need for words. But these three images need some words to make more sense of them.

The three images are of my dear mum. My mum has had dementia for the last three years. I feel very lucky that we still have my mum with us – you can still have a hug, you can sometimes have a joke, you can catch each other’s eyes, you can look through a photo album together and it somehow still feels meaningful, she still plays the piano brilliantly and you can still just be together – that’s all worth a lot. The flip side, or the paradox is that in some respects mum isn’t here anymore. A lot of things are missing – the chats about life and the family, her interest and consistent belief in us all, her sense of understanding of who we are, her need to sleep so much and for my dad, no longer having his best friend to share life with in the way that he has known for 54 years. The three photos here capture some of the paradox.

The black and white image shows something of what dementia is like – a sense of being so close yet so far away.

The image of mum on the phone is when my dad called up (he was on a rare trip away and my sisters and I were looking after mum). Her face lit up. Suddenly there was recognition, warmth and love. A glimpse of my mum still being here.

And the third image is of my mum listening to Lang Lang (her favourite classical pianist) play Liszt and Chopin. From a place of blankness again it was like mum was within reach again – her eyes are closed but this time she is definitely not asleep but rather lost in the music she has always loved – lost but also returned.

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