Building Memory’s by Eric Raddatz 

Building Memory’s

s Memorys Dying Dream 2011 JPEGI have found as a Hospice Chaplain for more than twelve years, death and dying remains something to which I can never become accustomed. At times it can be very difficult and troubling to observe and engage; at other times, it is an experience filled with blessing and grace. Each family’s emotions and dynamics are integrated into the fabric of the life passing. Their history, good and bad, can define the moments shared and lived in these last days. In this personal walk of faith and doubt I came to my Mother’s passing not knowing the how or the why of my reactions. As a son and also acting as caregiver with my sister, I soon realized that everything I thought I knew was lost in the emotions felt. My Mother was and is a very real part of my life and history. Her dying struggle and death defined in me a loss I never thought or believed I would live out even to this day.

k Memorys Dying Dream 2011 JPEG

As an artist I discovered a need to express the multiple dimensions of loss that I was experiencing and in as many ways to hide from them. Stepping out of my comfort zone I chose to capture the images as I lived them: close, intimate and personal. With my cell phone camera, an old style LG flip, I began to record the last 10 days of my Mother’s life. Saved on a tiny SIM card, reviewing them each night, I came away with a total of 58 photos and no plan as to what I would do with them.

Some months later I was having dinner with Ginger Allen an artist and jewelry designer. She shared her plans to open a gallery in Wake Forest, NC and that she would focus on narrative art exhibitions. We agreed that my experience would make for a strong and challenging show. Because of the process of grief I was hesitant to revisit the emotions held hidden within. It took me another 3 months before I could commit to a date.

Sensing that the photographs would never fully define the pain deep and troubling I chose to add my thoughts, fears and love in words written by hand, these scratching’s, I felt, would add to the intimacy I was seeking. Sitting at my computer I wrote the story of my Mother’s passing then carefully choosing 18 sentences that would describe the events pictured, I edited the narrative. It was then that I found the whole of the life and death captured came to live in its own way, giving a life and meaning to the emptiness left behind.

 

Memory’s Dying Dream: A Mother’s Passing in Words & Images is on view at the Frankie G. Weems Gallery, Meredith College, through January 22, 2015. Closing Reception – January 22, 2015, 4-6pm

 

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