Fourteen years after a brain surgery called Deep Brain Stimulation  and 24 years after her diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, my mom is still here on earth with us.  Which is a result of an incredibly strong
heart muscle, Western medicine, some Girl From New Hampshire grit, and a
genuine, deeply rooted lack of suffering. 
In spite of everything my mom could suffer about, my mother does not
suffer.  Suffering, she has inadvertently
taught everyone around her, is a choice.  
Every day she gets up and she is inspired and motivated to accomplish
any and all daily tasks.  She lives in a
nursing home among dedicated, incredible staff, and she attends crafts, bingo,
trivia, happy hour (BYO chardonnay!), and choga (which if ya don’t know, now ya
know: is chair yoga)!  My mom can
barely open her eyes, cannot use her legs at all, and can use her arms less
every year, but she does not even mention it.

And this is my MOM!! 
This is who I’m from! With all the pain and all the tears and all the
anger, I feel like the luckiest person in the world! And everyone who works
with her at the nursing home feels the same way.   Watching someone who is motivated and
inspired by her challenges, not defeated by them, is the greatest gift anyone
could give this world.

Over the 24 years of watching my mom become trapped in her
own body I have been through many stages of sadness, anger, and grief
myself.  A few years ago, taking a page
from my mom’s Do Not Suffer book, I had an idea how to get us back into the
Mother Daughter Creative Duo we once were. 
I started to bring my camera and tripod into her nursing home and
photographing the two of us together.  She tried her hardest to open her eyes to look
right at the camera like I asked her to, and she tried hard to make her
face smile because when she’s working alongside me creatively she’s feeling her
very best.  I could tell she knew the
pain and love and hardship I was trying to convey in the photographs, and like
a soldier she became the subject of those photographs.   My dad even posed for one with his
prosthetic leg beside him.  My parents
are brave.

I don’t want anyone to feel bad when they look at these photographs.  I want you to see strength and love, grit and
family, loyalty and life.   This is what
life looks like, too, sometimes.  Right
there alongside the babies and the weddings and the young families.   And
when it’s all over, it was all beautiful, it was all perfect, and all we’ll see
is love.

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  • Laura

    Thanks for the reminder that there is beauty in all stages of life, especially when viewed through a loving lens.

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  • Just beautiful. Reminds me of the ten years I spent taking care of my dad. Blasted my heart wide open. Thanks for sharing.❤️

  • Oh, Tara! These photos are fucking brilliant. I imagine it took awhile for you to get to that place of being able to bring your camera into the nursing home like this. This is so personal, and at least for me, it’s often a real challenge to mix the real life stuff with what I Iove to create. Thank you deeply for sharing this story about your mom and her amazing attitude about life, despite all that she faces on a daily basis. This is truly inspiring on so many levels. Blessing and Peace to you and your parents. Thank you for this post. -Briana

  • Gretchen Gause

    Your words are clear proof that you have that bravery too. What a beautiful gift. Life is so bizarre and small and yet so very big and beautiful. Much love.

  • Matt Simon

    Tara,
    This was incredibly moving – thank you for sharing. Love you!
    -Matt

  • Barbara Chandler

    Tara, how beautiful! Jocelyn sent along to me and I have passed on to Mary Buccafusca. I saw your Mom when my Mother was at Bay Path. The first time I was near the elevators and there was a crowd of folks waiting in their chairs to go up, I spoke to one of the nurses there about my Mom and all of a sudden I heard, “Barbara, Barbara Chandler”, I turned and there was your Mom. I was blown away to think she knew me after so many years of not seeing each other. Remember your Mom went with me to Hawaii back in 1979 or 80…we had soooo much fun, figuring out how to save the money to go, leaving kids with folks to take care of, and this all started with Mary B and girl scouts!!! My does time march. You look wonderful and I love your work so much. Have a wonderful 2017 and thank you for doing this, we all need reminders now and then. Oh how she loves her daughters!!!

  • Tracy cohen

    Just Wow!!!

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  • Mj

    Just saw this and I am almost speechless. But you are full of precious words that convey your love for your mother and life itself. It makes me think of my mom and her struggles with Alzhemers. I was in some one way happy she got this ugly disease because maybe now she could forget her awful childhood. You are a beautiful soul , Tara and I thank God Kim brought you into my life. Much love to you and yours, mjs