Thursday, May 5, 2011

Farewell to a man who changed my life

Walking on Venice beach, I saw lots of snowy egrets in the last few days. I'm used to seeing them along lakes and wetlands but not so much where waves meet sand. This shot reflects they way I feel right now--deeply reflective.



*


My father-in-law died Saturday. Ken was a quiet man, a private man, quite the opposite personality of my mother-in-law, Fern. But between them they exposed me to a world of wonder. They changed my life, showing me the richness of experiences available if we open ourselves up, reach out.


They always traveled, often spending months abroad, staying with people they'd met or with friends of friends all around the globe.


Life was meant to be explored, to be tasted and contemplated and shared. She did it through words. He did it through pictures, capturing extraordinary moments in his portraits and landscapes. When people visited, they begged for him to do a slide show of his images, many of which made it into galleries and on Corbis. I think this link to Ocean View, an exhibit at the UCR/California Museum of Photography is still viable.

(The link takes you to the main page. You must click on artists and Ken O'Brien to see his work, I discovered when checking the link.)


Ken gave me my first SLR camera and taught me how to compose photos and how to develop them in his darkroom. He showed me by example that capturing good images means getting out and about, being on the lookout and then being patient, waiting for the right light, finding the best composition.


In no way am I offering these shots on this post as examples. They are just what I found while walking and contemplating his long, well-lived life. And I shot them on the fly with a phone camera--something that would have shocked his meticulous nature.


*




*


He was a man who'd always kept himself trim and active, but his health declined and turned him into a shell of who he was. His passing was expected. His friends and family knew it was time for him to bid adieu to this world with all its wonder and pain.
The Easter egg party I wrote about recently was an incredible send-off. So many people were there who had known him for years and spent happy days at his home. Normally, he napped a lot in his final days but he sat in his wheelchair for the whole party. I like to think he absorbed all the love that filled that house.






*




*
Anyway, that's why I've been absent from the blog world and will be sporadic in the days ahead as I have many family issues to deal with. I will visit you all when I can. Thank you to the new followers and all who comment. It always means a lot to me.







26 comments:

Janet Johnson said...

So sorry for your loss. Best wishes in getting through the next few days (and then beyond).

Domey Malasarn said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this, Tricia. I hope you are doing okay. I'm sending good thoughts your way.

Tere Kirkland said...

Oh, Tricia, I'm so sorry! Hope things are starting to look up. Big hugs for you and your family.

Laraine Herring said...

Tricia, thank you for sharing such a wonderful post (& pictures). I am so sorry for your loss (which sounds so empty).... All best, Laraine

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I'm so sorry, Tricia. Your post is beautiful.

Laraine Eddington said...

I'm sorry you have lost such a wonderful presence in your life. Thanks for the beautiful post.

Suzanne Casamento said...

Your post is beautiful. He sounds like an amazing man and that his life was a gift to you and your family.

My thoughts are with you.

Donna said...

What a beautiful tribute to a fine man. I'm glad he was in your life for so long.

kathrynjankowski said...

A lovely, touching tribute. Based on the photos you feature on the blog, he was a fine teacher.
Do take care, Tricia.

Catherine Denton said...

Oh Tricia, I'm terribly sorry for your loss. *Hugs* Your tribute is an honor to his character. And your pictures...are gorgeous. I can't believe you did it with a camera phone. He obviously taught you well.
My Blog

The Golden Eagle said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Beautiful post and tribute.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. It's been a hard while for you. Take care of yourself and each other & let yourselves remember all the goodness and joy. Take care. *hugs*

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. But I loved that he absorbed all that love during the egg party. Some of his spirit lives in you and your beautiful pictures.

xoxo

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

EVERYONE: Thank you all so much for the kind words. It's much appreciated.

Wen Baragrey said...

Tricia, I'm so sorry. You've had a real run of it lately :( *hugs* What wonderful parents-in-law you had, and in what wonderful ways they touched your life. It's a beautiful tribute to how much one life can change another.

Liza said...

Thinking of you Tricia. I know you will hold tight to the gifts that your father-in-law gave you. Be at peace, if you can.

Jade said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. I'm thinking of you.

Judy Croome said...

Trish, having just returned from the funeral of my own father-in-law who died on Holy Thursday (long Easter holidays here delayed his funeral)I can only say to you that we can be thankful we had fathers-in-laws who enriched our lives, not only in the sons they gave us as husbands, but by their own presence in our lives. As I said in my blogpost about my Fil, the empty space will not be filled in this lifetime, but I know we will meet again in another. May your memories of Ken bring you and your family joy once this time of sadness has passed.
Judy, South Africa

Solvang Sherrie said...

Thinking of you ((hugs))

LynNerd said...

Hi Tricia,
I'm so sorry about your father-in-law. I think it's wonderful that you had such a good relationship with him. Sounds like he had so much to offer in a gentle, quiet way. How wonderful that he was able to attend the egg decorating family gathering. I bet he took it all in and enjoyed each and every one of you. I hope you're doing all right. It takes time.

Lynn

Talli Roland said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your father-in-law; he sounds like such a special man. Sending you lots of hugs!
xx

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Oh, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your blog entry is such a lovely tribute to your father-in-law. I hope your memories bring you comfort during this difficult time.

Sarah Laurence said...

Love that egret image with shadow! Egrets have only just come back to Maine after our long winter. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Your father in law did have an interesting eye – thanks for the link. You have learned well from a master. How nice to have been able to share this love of photography with him. My thoughts are with you and your family. Big hug.

Paul Greci said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Tricia.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Everyone: Again, thanks so much for these wonderful comments.
I'm probably not going to post again for at least a week. We're holding a wake for a large number of people Sunday and there are many, many business things we're dealing with.
Peace.

Robyn Campbell said...

Pat, I am SOOO sorry. I have been on blogging hiatus and decided to come check on you, my friend.

What a lovely tribute to your father-in-law. My condolences to you and your family. *keeping you in my thoughts and prayers*