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I wish I had stood my ground and insisted on Dad letting me take his photograph when he resisted the last time I saw him. He was on the verge of turning 88, and his mother and grandfather lived well into their 90’s, so I had no reason to think I wouldn’t have another time when he would be in favor of a photo shoot.
Several months before he passed away he told me he wanted a photograph of himself wearing a suit and tie while donning his fez. Not a cell phone shot, but a good photograph to hang on the wall. As a lifelong freemason, he was proud of the hat he earned being a member of the organization. Its the one you see Shriners wear in parades, and it really meant something to him. He’s a handsome devil even at his advanced age, particularly when was is gussied up.
Dad suffered from Progressive Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) for years and breathing became labored off and on for him. Over the past few months, he had been in-and-out of the hospital many times but always bounced back as if nothing had happened. For six months after he made the request, I brought my camera to photograph him during our visits. Dad could be a little on the stubborn side, and each time he said that he didn’t feel like changing from his casual clothes just then. I wasn’t about to push him into something he didn’t want to do. Besides, his refusals didn’t concern me much since I thought I would have many more opportunities to capture him as he wished.
Sadly, this is the last picture I have of him, which is several years old. He passed away in the hospital before I could get the photograph he wanted. A cell phone image of Dad and me on his last Fathers Day outing is certainly not the portrait I had hoped to have in my home forever, but it’s the one I have.
I know I should have taken more photographs of my parents and insisted when Dad said “no” back then. If I had, a beautiful reminder of him and his love would be hanging in my home to pass by every day.