Parting shots, post-processing.
"That feels just like Pap," I said to myself when I gave his arm a hestiant pat to say goodbye. "He's all bony."
As if it were a replica of Pap in the casket. Like they got his lean, sinewy forearms perfect. Pap's legs were weak in recent years, so I spent a lot of time propping him up when we walked. I held his arms or he held mine. I know how those arms felt. These arms on this thing lying in the box were just like the original's.
I was aware of the schism. In the brief moment of contact with Pap's body, I was aware my mind was refusing to believe what I was seeing and feeling. This can't be the way we say goodbye. There's always a handshake at the end of the conversation. There's always a wave goodbye as I pull out of his driveway.
Pap died last week. Fran Pegher, my mother's father, was 96, a naturalist and force of nature. He was my Obi Wan, my Lao Tzu, and responsible for giving me my lilting vocal intonation and green thumb. I will miss him being here, but I don't think he'll ever be gone.
I wrote that on Facebook. That's what I think, I think, because this man is such a part of me, so, as long as I exist, he exists. That's what I think, I think, because maybe I really just haven't been able to understand this as real, this is really happening, this has really happened.
I don't know why I had to take a photo here. I think it's because this point in time is the end of the story of this man. I think it's because I'm still disappointed in myself for the motion blur in the photo of Uncle Phil in his casket last year. I didn't plan on taking that shot. That's why it was bad. I was unprepared. This time, I had to do it right. I tossed a tripod in the trunk before we went to Thoma's for the vieiwing, just in case I would get the chance for this shot.
In past portfolio reviews, people said photos of Pap were some of my strongest work. This is the last of it. Now I'm out of material.
And I'm a mess.