Christopher Plummer, the iconic actor who played Captain von Trapp in “The Sound of Music,” celebrated the simple goodness of an Alpine flower in his touching song, “Edelweiss.” (Sadly, CP died this week at age 91, but he left us gifts that will live on for generations.) In ” The Sound of Music,” the purity of a loving marriage, a close family, a father singing to his children and a tiny wildflower stand in contrast to the rigid, militaristic, powerful, cruel, violent and murderous culture of Nazi Germany.
Sometimes I wonder if we have learned from history, or if we are doomed to repeat it. Take a moment to look at these sunlit orchids, and to think about what is good.
When I photograph the children at Children’s Hospital, I am always impressed with the strong spirit of the children and their parents. Most of the children I meet are fighting a life threatening illness, and it’s a stressful time.
I was particularly impressed with this mother and son. I could easily read the love in the mother’s heart through her eyes and hands.
There are many reasons to love the Pileated Woodpecker. First, you notice its brilliant red crown feathers and the red, black and white plumage, which would be a striking way to dress yourself today. Second, you can observe its impressive ability to steady itself vertically way up high in an old tree or utility pole. Then, you may marvel at its ability to hunt for food or carve out a nest by tapping its beak into the wood like a hammer 10 to 20 times per second. How can its head withstand all that impact?
Lastly, you may like the woodpecker for these traits you would admire in a human: it is non-migratory, inhabiting the same territory for its lifetime. It chooses and is loyal to a single mate. It benefits many other bird and mammal species in its environment, as song birds, owls and even raccoons later inhabit the old tree holes that the woodpecker has carved out for its nests.
And here is a mixed blessing. That pileated woodpecker in your backyard may be giving you some free advice: that dead tree needs to come down.
As I continue to process the portraits I made at Childrens Hospital last week, I find myself gazing into the eyes of the brave hearted children and their beautiful mothers. These mothers are exceptional because they have risen to the challenge to inspire calm in their children as they hold fast to enduring hope for better days ahead.
They hold firmly onto their dreams for a bright future for their children, even as they balance private worries they dare not speak. In their eyes, you can read the strength they embody.
The mother, the father, the grandmother, the visiting uncle, the little sister — the intensity of their love is a big part of the cure.
Dad, your enthusiasm and curiosity about new places on Earth were inspirational to me. Your generosity to your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will remain as a challenge for all of us to emulate. You wanted me to see the world and keep learning about the diversity in the world. I will always cherish your memory wherever I go. I say a prayer for you here on the coast of Hawaii. I miss you very much. Love, Cathy
Father’s Day this year is extra special for my son-in-law who became a Daddy last week. This portrait shows him gently cradling his daughter a few hours after her birth. From our family to yours: Love your Dad. Thank him for a lifetime of love and support.
While photographing this mother and daughter at Children’s Hospital last week, I asked Mom if she shaved her head to support her daughter going through chemotherapy.
“I let Mary shave my head,” she replied. “My hair was really, really long, and I let her shave it all off.”
“And now you will grow your hair back together,” I said.
The intimacy between the two was also evident in the playfulness they revealed. I try to capture both the playful moments as well as the sober ones when my subjects are relaxed enough to share both with me.
*Mary is a fictitious name. We protect the privacy of patients by keeping their identities private.
It’s New Year’s Eve, and most of us are wondering what next year will bring. We make resolutions to somehow live a little bit better, and we look back to try to understand what counted most about the year just past. I will start afresh and make my own goals for next year, but I am also thinking that no matter how much planning I do and no matter how much I try to make 2016 unfold in the best way possible, one thing is for sure: there will be surprises.
Looking back on last year, I can identify with a smile the joy that came into our lives most unexpectedly on May 1 — our Australian Shepherd puppy Sophie. As the new year dawned, I had no idea that we would be adding a puppy to our busy lives. Although, it was a major life changing decision, it was an impulsive and emotional decision. It was a good one. Sophie’s sweet and genuine presence has brought me an my family much joy.
More on resolutions later. For now, I wish you happy surprises in 2016. I wish you love. The more you give, the more you get.