An Intimate Portrait (part 6)

“To complete a project.”

This was his answer when I asked “What makes you happy?”  Is it any wonder, then, that I’ve got this underlying uneasiness knowing I haven’t yet finished my Intimate Portrait series?

I must come by it naturally.

“Tell me about your father.”  He described a story in which his father had told them ‘he could do anything his kids could do, until he turned 50 years old.’  At first, it sounded a little like a competitive thing.  Then as I thought more about it, perhaps it was meant to serve as motivation or a challenge to the kids?

Growing up, I remember stopping by the telephone office in town, then racing him the two or three blocks to the house.  Also, of occasional games of one on one basketball against him in the driveway after work.  Was that competitive?  Or motivation?

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This is Bill.  Fifth in the birth order of seven children.  My Dad.

He’s both a competitor and a motivator. And prideful, and smart.

As I got older, taller, and better at basketball games, he quit playing against me.

I asked him to look back on his life, if there was anything he wished he could do over?  “Useless exercise” was the reply.  He’s also extremely practical.

Look again at the picture above.  Do you see what I do?  The slight smile?  The twinkle in his eye?  My dad also has a tremendous sense of humor, a strong playful streak.  It was hinted at when I interviewed my other subjects.  One said, “Your dad was a little wild, you know.”  Unfortunately, that interview ended before I could get some background or details on that comment.

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Even in this picture, there’s a mischievous hint of a smirk.

Or maybe he’s just happy that he’s been married to Sandy, my Mom, for 54 years?

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“What’s the key to marriage” I ask.  “Many” she says.  “Be willing to forgive.””Always kiss goodnight.”  Really?  Always?  “Well, sometimes you don’t want to.”

I feel like my mom glows.  She seems genuinely happy.

What are you most proud of?  “My family.”  I kept pushing.  “The person I’ve become.”  It’s true.  I’ve witnessed her become more confident the past several years.  I feel like she’s comfortable in her own skin.

My mom and dad.  Beautiful people.  Awesome parents.  Tremendous role models, as are each of the subjects I’ve profiled.

What started out simply as a photography project has turned into something so much more meaningful.  I got to spend quality time with fascinating people; to hear tiny tidbits of their lives; to weave together a little background of their childhoods and understand more about who they are, as well as who I am.  I am grateful for their openness and willingness to share with me, and with you, the reader of this blog.

My project is complete.  I am happy.

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4 thoughts on “An Intimate Portrait (part 6)

  1. What a wonderful keepsake, Brian! Thank you so much for all your time and talent you have put into this project! You do have a very special gift of writing and photography. You did a great job of showing those talents in this whole project. God Bless You!

  2. WOW BRIAN! You are amazing writer, photographer, and person. Our family is a wonderful gem and you have captured that with print and photos. I love your style of documenting, unrehearsed, and uncensored interviews. I know the Hammond’s (myself included) can be opinionated and I think I can now see where that roots from. I too remember things a little different about my mom receiving an engagement ring. I heard he (Arlo) slipped it in her apron pocket. She claimed she didn’t want it. But perhaps Dad (John) remembers the truth. But then I remember hearing: Aunt Norma would NEVER lie! Aunt Alice would RATHER lie, and with my Dad (John) it didn’t make much difference to him one way or the other. Thank-you Brian for doing this and posting it.

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