I can tell you the day. It was December 10, 2005.
I was hired to come take photographs at a noble NYC patron saint’s 90th birthday. At the time I was living with his granddaughter and had just moved to Boston. I was totally in awe of her cosmopolitan family and their fancy NYC lives. Her grandfather Thomas Keehn is amazing and I loved being around him, even though he never remembered my name. (I don’t blame him, he’s too popular and important.) Gloria Steinem was rumored to make an appearance at that particular party.
But time moves forward and a guest at the party, Perry (the man in the photo above) recently passed away. I received a message asking for the photo to be used in the funeral, and was floored by the response:
Thank you so much. When Leatrice (my mother-in-law) saw your photograph of Perry, she broke into that cathartic weeping that a mourner needs to give into in order to come to terms with what has happened. The photo grabs and brings back the “awesomeness” (as one of your bloggers put it) of the Perry we want so much to keep and remember — before illness robbed those blue eyes of their spark. I have framed a copy for Lea and she keeps it near her all the time.
I really can’t thank you adequately. Life falls apart. Art stitches it back together. You are a very special seamstress.
Wow. I am experiencing a bittersweet joy. I have been reminded in this experience how special the older people in our lives are, and how we need to cherish the opportunities we have to be with them. I am going to make a more concentrated effort to do portraits with the grandparents at the weddings this year, to remember to do things like a generational portrait with the bride and her mother and her grandmother. Sometimes at a wedding or bat mitzvah you have all these people running around, and about five minutes to get the family photos done, and want to slam through the required motions. But we as wedding photographers need to remember to ensure that families have photos of the special people in their lives.
As Benny so eloquently states, “Life falls apart. Art stitches it back together.”