Death and the dying

Re-think about what photography means to you. Think of photography as medicine for your soul, not just making pretty photos. -Eric Kim
After finding out my brother had only days to live, we rushed to Kindred Hospital in Sycamore IL, to see him. Keep in mind my brother's poor health was information that was withheld from us; we had no idea he even had a headache, much less was dying of a kidney disorder. It was my younger sister, Christine, who kept us in the dark, and it was my older sister, Joyce, who finally succumbed and contacted me. Gary could not speak when we arrived, although I believe he saw us and I'm certain he heard us, as he reacted. He had already been pulled off dialysis and was just waiting to die. Two of his nephews and his niece (three of our children) are shown in this photograph. They thought the world of Uncle Gary (what a keen wit and sense of humor he had) and could not imagine what kind of person would withhold this type of information. The nurses on staff did not even know I (or my family) existed. They were stunned when we arrived to see Gary. I probably took hundreds of photographs. He died 11-22-14, and it's just now that I can actually look at these images for more than a few seconds, but I am so grateful that I at least have them.

Visiting my brother on the second of three days in a row, our daughter, Therese, took this photo.

"The last breath"
Hours before my brother passed away we were at the hospital for the third day in a row. My husband, Tom, is shown in the middle, and Gary's namesake, Gary (our second son), is shown on the right. My brother was not a Catholic; he spent most of his life as an agnostic (albeit a saintly one), but we added a photograph of The Divine Mercy above his bed (and because that no doubt disappeared as soon as my sister showed up; we placed miraculous medals in hidden places around his room).
R.I.P. sweet brother; we love you, and thank you for all you did for me in my life and for my family too.

This will be an ongoing list as time and memory allows.

Thank you for:

The brand new dryer
The brand new refrigerator
My $2,000 digital hearing aid
Paying the bill so our daughter could have her braces removed
Countless car repairs. It's so ironic our car quit [this time for good] between your funeral and the dinner after and required a tow home (to its eventual graveyard) and it's never been replaced; we bike or we walk or we call Uber
Your physical help in my many apartment moves
Allowing me to live with you for five years (and according to you, I could have lived with you until our deaths had I not met my husband Tom whom I only met because I lived in your area)
For giving me your third bedroom for a photo studio (what a blast we had with my friends), even allowing my few customers to use this space as well
Treating our children to not just Thanksgiving dinner every year for several years in a row but also to their (holistic) medical bills when they were younger
Not gossiping about your other sisters and loving us all the same

Keeping me from marrying two real clunkers
And in that same vein, thank you for keeping me from purchasing that strange sports car (remember, that built-very-low-to-the-ground lime green one)? Oy vey, what was I thinking?
Finding humor in absolutely everything, yet taking seriously my lack-of-health issues
Bringing me to various doctor appointments, and always being there at my hospital stays as well
For always being kind to my friends; they thought you were funny and helpful
Taking (and picking up) me and my friends to youth center (a building that hasn't changed and is steps from our current home) every Friday night for a couple of years (remember when "I wanna hold your hand" came on the radio for the first time during one of our drives to YC, and you told us girls, "I think these guys are going to make it big"

Teaching me how to drive stick shift
Teaching my friend Cindy how to drive stick as well (however, there may have been some ulterior motives there; she sure was beautiful)
Teaching me how to start and operate your Honda motorcycle when I was only 15

To be continued...

(Three favorite pictures. I'm so glad I have them.)

Gary and me at our folks' 50th wedding anniversary celebration on 11-11-90, one month after the birth of my fourth child Therese. I was [extremely] sick on this day regarding Meniere's Syndrome; only angels brought me here.

Again, at our mother and father's 50th wedding celebration at Ki's and Gary is showing his usual concern over my lack-of-health issues which is being discussed with the compassionate friend of my mother's as my mother embraces me and I think that's my father in the background, however I'm not positive. The "kid" on the right is my husband. At this point in time he and I had four children (our final count!). 

Gary with our sons, John, Gary, and Patrick, and Tom (on the right) at Villa Olivia in Bartlett. Therese is taking the picture. Uncle Gary would take us there (and treat us) every Thanksgiving for years (maybe 7 or 8 in a row).

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