Sunday, August 3, 2014

Time to Say Goodbye to Nonna

As a photographer, I believe that I am a keeper of sacred images. As hokey as that sounds, you never know which will be the last frame you will snap of someone you love or another family's cherished matriarch.

This was the case of Joan Mitchell Jenkins who passed away this week after several years of fighting life-threatening diseases. I would like to celebrate what I knew about her.

When I met Joan, she was already battling debilitating health issues. This was extremely difficult for her, but I never heard her complain about it.  Instead what I saw was a complete dedication to her daughter's family including a special granddaughter.

I have rarely seen such devotion to grandchildren (excluding my own Mother who is at the top of the heap). Joan loved little Alessandra fiercely and it brought her great joy to be with her.

Over the years, I would take photos of little Alessandra and Nonna would often be there.  Some of my favorite photos are from her first birthday. These two share the same look.

To get all three generations of women together was incredible. Alessandra was teething and it would have taken hot sauce on her fingers to keep her hands out of her mouth, but it does not matter. The moment was recorded.

The last photo I took of Nonna and Alessandra together was ironically on the day before my own father died. This weighed heavily on me as I took this last photo of the two together... not knowing if there would be another opportunity like this.

Nonna probably would hate being seen in her pink cap and oxygen lines, but to me, this photo is a powerful reminder of how her world revolved around her granddaughter. Maybe this will become a reminder to an older Alessandra when she thinks about her Nonna.