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July 24, 2008 12:58 AM   Subscribe

Days with my Father
posted by miss lynnster (48 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was beautiful, thanks for sharing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:06 AM on July 24, 2008


I find the notes/comments his father leaves around the house especially poignant. Great find, miss lynnster!
posted by Anderson_Localized at 1:08 AM on July 24, 2008


My dad wrote very similar notes to himself during his last years of life. Some lost, some hopeful. After he passed, I found one in his living room that I keep on my bulletin board now. It says, "A big chunk of my life still to be played out." Whenever I read it, somehow it makes me both feel profoundly sad and incredibly appreciative of life at the same time... so I really related to this.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:12 AM on July 24, 2008 [11 favorites]


What an achingly beautiful photoessay. Lovingly presented. Great site design, just beautiful.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:33 AM on July 24, 2008


Loved it, but it made me miss my dad.
posted by w0mbat at 1:43 AM on July 24, 2008


That was really wonderful, thanks miss lynnster.

Did anyone else have trouble with the text in IE? The beginnings of the words were off the page for me. Had to struggle a bit to make them out, but it was worth it.
posted by amyms at 1:52 AM on July 24, 2008


Thanks for sharing this find with us.

My father died when I was 6 months old, my mother never remarried. I only have snippets of what he was like, gleaned from conversations from his brothers and friends, and only fragments of relationships with men that might resemble what it would have been like to have a father.

Reading something like this is priceless to me.
posted by HuronBob at 1:56 AM on July 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Initially, I went to the site, had to turn on Flash and the damn thing *still* needed to resize my browser and reset the definition on my monitor so that I could look at the photographs properly. Two pictures and I thought, 'Fuck this. All this to look at some maudlin, sentimental twaddle? GYOB!'

But HuronBob's comment made me go back and take another look.

My first thought was, 'Wow, what a handsome old man? If I look as good as that at 97, I'm gonna be totally hitting on all of the 66 year olds and scoring too'.

My second thought was. 'Damn, my dad is 85 this month. He only lives a couple of miles away and it's ages since I've seen him. Better give him a call later today.'

Funny thing though. Right through your forties, you see photographs like this and you think about dealing with other old people. As soon as I hit my fifties, I see pictures like this and I think -- 'That's me, that is. Oh, not right this minute, but much, much closer than I like to think about. Why, oh why wasn't I sensible and industrious -- the kind of person who puts their excess income into a pension plan and solid investments, instead of into fast women and loose living? How much can I catch up in the time available to me? Wahhh, not at all!'

My current plan is to retire on incapacity benefit, which I will claim from a small village on the Thai/Burma border. Pipes full of opium will provide me with an adequate substitution for overpriced western medicine, and the local hookers will meet my nursing needs for a very reasonable day rate.

Spending it all on fast women and loose living, right up until the day I die. They can carve that on my gravestone. Or onto a sutra for my funeral pire. Or on the back of the receipt from the transplant brokers. Whichever is the most economical.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:33 AM on July 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


It is difficult to capture the dignity of the aged and infirm without obscuring the humiliation and loss that is quite apparent when seen first-hand. This site did so beautifully. Thanks for the link.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 2:35 AM on July 24, 2008


Steve Goodman sings "My Old Man"
posted by Daddy-O at 2:43 AM on July 24, 2008


Thanks, Miss Lynnster.
posted by maxwelton at 3:11 AM on July 24, 2008


Just how fast are these women, PeterMcDermott? Inquiring minds want to know.

But mainly, this "excess income"... how does one go about acquiring such?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:21 AM on July 24, 2008


I enjoyed that very much.
posted by Cedric at 3:40 AM on July 24, 2008


I got a birthday card this week from my wife's grandmother. It was from a store. The note said, in part, "I wish I could make my own clever cards, like Bill used to."

The other night my two-year-old asked to see my almost-finished dissertation. She looked at the pages and pages of black-and-white text with black-and-white line drawings, and said, "Is it very boring?"

"Look at my titties!" A hundred-year joke.

This photoessay makes both ends of my life feel equally close. A bizarre, uncomfortable, beautiful feeling.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 3:46 AM on July 24, 2008


On the subject of those notes:

My fiance fights with her Father all the time. She can't understand why men that age are so grumpy all the time. "He's never fucking happy," she'll say, banging a clenched fist against her hip. She doesn't understand what the truth of the matter is.

The truth of the matter is that her father has done everything that the world has told him makes him a Good Man, a Proper Man, a Real Man; he's worked his entire life to provide for the family that sprang from his loins, he's provided consistent moral guidance to his offspring, as unswerving and upright as its possible to be, he's fought the battles that needed to be fought, paid his taxes, and embraced the baffling new concepts of modern life: Internets. Carbon Debt. Hugging.

He's done all this and more. He lives in 5-bedroomed comfort in rural Essex where he is a paid up member of the Conservative Club. He is the master of all he surveys and still, still, the world is baffling, unfair and random; nothing is settled, nobody listens to him and everything, literally everything, can be snatched from under his nose with no explanation and no apology. He's worked all his life to make his world a comfortable and predictable place for him and his family and, after all these years, it remains a dangerous, irrational place whose whims are capricious and whose rewards are, in the final analysis, arbitrary.

That, i think is where those notes come from. A rational mind raging against the dying of the light, and all that. It's what Men do. "There's a lot to sort out," he appears to be thinking, "and my memory is not what it once was. I shall enumerate the problems of the world on this pad. Then we will be getting somewhere. Then we shall see who is the boss."
posted by Jofus at 4:00 AM on July 24, 2008 [41 favorites]


Actually, now I've posted that, I recall that this is territory I've walked before in a different comment.
posted by Jofus at 4:13 AM on July 24, 2008


Yeah, that's class. Nicely done. Touching without a trace of the maudlin.
posted by milkwood at 4:33 AM on July 24, 2008


My father died a couple of years. Hence, I wasn't so surprised at the "Service Unavailable" error message I got by clicking the link.
posted by paulsc at 4:42 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


That was fantastic. The whole thing just drips with artistry.
posted by Shohn at 4:54 AM on July 24, 2008


Ah, Jesus. Didn't need to read that quite so early this morning, but it was very good. Thanks for the post.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:08 AM on July 24, 2008


Fucker.

Why'd I read that at work?
posted by Pecinpah at 6:27 AM on July 24, 2008


beautiful. even if the website does make me twitch.
posted by msconduct at 6:29 AM on July 24, 2008


Service Unavailable
posted by srboisvert at 6:34 AM on July 24, 2008


Service Unavailable

For those with workaholic fathers.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 6:37 AM on July 24, 2008


It looks like the site has coded in a rejection from Metafilter as a referrer. After you click through and get Site Unavailable, click in the address bar and hit enter to 'manually' navigate to the link, and the site will load.

It's still there, it's just being rude and telling MeFites to Go Away.
posted by Malor at 6:49 AM on July 24, 2008


you may also have to open a new window and paste in the url to get there...worth the trouble.
posted by HuronBob at 6:59 AM on July 24, 2008


Really good. Despite the stupid interface.
posted by Perplexity at 7:53 AM on July 24, 2008


That was really nice.

I arrived at work this morning to stare at the chart of 92 year old man whose wife died 3 weeks ago. He was here yesterday and his mind had clearly slipped since then. It was probably the distraction of grief but his Folstein Mini Mental Status Exam score has fallen 8 points and I couldn't in good conscience send him home in the car he drove here with. I put on my professional compassion face as I called his son to come pick him up and filed the form with the Department of Licensing to take away his driver's license but inside I was raging. There's not much a doctor can to do fix this situation, and now I was going to have to do all this extra work to take away a sweet old man's independence just because and his family lacked the basic judgment and will to avoid putting others in harm's way by taking away his car keys.

And now I sit here comtemplating everything that's happened to bring him to this place. This was a timely post for me, miss lynster. Thank you.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:14 AM on July 24, 2008


Sweet and heartbreaking at the same time. While the site has bizarre navigation, the photography was amazing.
posted by geeky at 8:19 AM on July 24, 2008


Actually the interface is pretty good as these sorts of things go. You can link to particular pictures for starters. I quite like it.
posted by chunking express at 8:23 AM on July 24, 2008


And yes, the photographs and text all are quite nice.
posted by chunking express at 8:25 AM on July 24, 2008


Definitely worth reloading the page.

Thanks, miss lynster.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:26 AM on July 24, 2008


My 93 year old grandmother just finally was admitted into an facility; taking some of the burden off my 72 year old mother and my aunt, who've been trading off caring for her at their homes. The lack of short term memory is the same, the multiple trips to the toilet and the confusion...having to tell them throughout the day that many of the people they've known are dead and being asked constantly to do the arthimatic to figure out how old someone would be if they were alive today. She asked how old our dog would be if it were alive today. The dog would be 47.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:29 AM on July 24, 2008


I just called my dad just to say hi. Thanks miss lynnster.
posted by spec80 at 8:36 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


FYI, I just tried it too, and as others have said if you cut & paste the link into your browser it seems to load up just fine.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:17 AM on July 24, 2008


Just how fast are these women, PeterMcDermott? Inquiring minds want to know.

The faster the better.

Originally, I'd written 'fast living and loose women', but I realized that that wasn't *quite* what I was aspiring to.

But mainly, this "excess income"... how does one go about acquiring such?

If I knew the answer to that, I'd be a man with a pension plan instead of being Mr. Negative Equity. But I'm hoping that seeing your kids move out and become financially self-sufficient might be a step in the right direction.

Once you've stopped having to pay for school fees and provide them with money to top up their student loans so that they don't starve, that is.

But I know that this is wishful thinking.

Reading that thread about race and education reminded me of a recent Korean film that I saw -- Once Upon A Time in High School. You're expected to study hard, because you're expected to provide for your parents in their old age. The more you earn, the better you'll be able to provide. So they study for careers that they expect to be well paid. Medicine. Architecture. Law. Engineering. IT. etc. etc.

If you don't study as hard as you should, you're expected to kneel on all fours while your teachers beat you across the back and shoulders with a thick bamboo pole. Then you go home and get more of the same from your parents. That should keep your nose to the fucking grindstone.

Whereas my kids? The little bastards are studying fine art and journalism. A great training for a career as a waiter. I should have given them plenty of the bamboo pole during their formative years. *They* are the reason that I face retirement in a squalid hut, with the rejects from the Bangkok hostess bars for my nurses. Had my daughters chosen to embrace a useful college curriculum, eg. Extracting Surplus Value 101, which covers texts such as Adam Smith for Beginners and Donald Trump's The Art of The Deal, then I might be looking forward to a comfortable early retirement. But oh, no. 'I want to be an *artist*, daddy!'. And *I'm* condemned to a penurious old age.

Fortunately, my first born son has his head screwed on. Works for the banks, selling expensive credit to suckers. I wouldn't trust him not to pick my pocket while my back is turned, but at least he isn't a black hole through which vast sums of cash are rapidly extracted.

Those Chinese have got parenting right in so many ways. Only have one. Let it be a boy. Keep slaughtering them until you get it right. Then beat them relentlessly until they fear not being a good provider for you in your old age.

Yup, we can learn a lot about parenting from the Asians. So, I wonder if my girls are too old to be sold into Geisha training?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:25 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Good post, miss l!
posted by Dizzy at 9:47 AM on July 24, 2008


Well, for what it's worth, Peter... I was a journalism major who became an artist. And I've waited on my parents hand and foot in their old age. Meanwhile, my mom hasn't gotten a visit from my radiologist brother in nearly a decade. Nor a check.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:06 AM on July 24, 2008


This was really lovely and timely for me as well. Sometimes I take photos of my mother and my aunt (81 & 79, respectively) and I think I shouldn't publish them, because I worry that the simple fact of age will overlay the beauty that's there inside. They were both beautiful women in their day and they still are, but sometimes they say things that make me wonder if they would prefer that there be no pictures of them from the last twenty years. Then I look at something like this site and I think, you know, it's okay, these pictures are more than okay.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:07 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Service unavailable." Boo! MeFi mob strikes again.
posted by Lillitatiana at 11:09 AM on July 24, 2008


Meanwhile, my mom hasn't gotten a visit from my radiologist brother in nearly a decade.

Here I am, laying down the groundwork for a serious guilt trip on my Metafilter-reading daughters, and just like their mother, you use your reasonableness to totally undermine my efforts in this direction.

How can I possibly maintain my tyranical status when I'm surrounded by such reasonable women? The next thing you know, my wife will be popping in, complaining about my hitherto undisclosed retirement plan and then where will I be?

I'll tell you: thousands of miles away from Thailand, opium and hookers in a drizzly northern English town.

I say meh! to your western rational thinking, Miss Lynnster. Aside from taming nature, building a civilization, fighting diseases and improving our standard of living, what the hell did it ever do for us? Is it going to deliver me my opium and hookers in my old age?

I think not.

And btw, why is it that women so love to crush our dreams underfoot, with one perfectly placed and completely reasonable objection?

I'm putting you on my list of offers to the Geisha academy. Thank the Lord for the patriarchy.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:31 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


My dad died last December so this meant a lot to me. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Nattie at 12:44 PM on July 24, 2008


Well written, beautifully photographed, a wonderful paean to his Dad.
posted by alicesshoe at 12:59 PM on July 24, 2008


Man, that was probably some of the best site design for a photo essay I've ever seen.
posted by signalnine at 1:30 PM on July 24, 2008


Wonderful. Just wonderful.

This photoessay makes both ends of my life feel equally close. A bizarre, uncomfortable, beautiful feeling.

Amen. Thanks, miss lynnster.
posted by mediareport at 3:38 PM on July 24, 2008


This is so beautiful and touching. What a good son, he has painted a remarkable portrait of his dad, a loving tribute. There are so many things that he says that tap into memories and feelings of my mom's and dad's last years. It made me sad and happy at the same time. Thanks, miss lynnster.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:27 PM on July 24, 2008


Wow. That's all I've got. Wow.

and, thanks!
posted by vytae at 9:29 AM on July 25, 2008


Most excellent.

And remember: Donta squeeza the fishl-it makes the eyes-a bulge.
posted by bwg at 4:45 PM on July 25, 2008


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