Every once in a while, you might get a feeling you need to shoot a picture. I would follow through on those, no matter how awkward, or sad, or inconvenient it might be. Over the years, I’ve made pictures of some feelings. Missed lots of times. Some, though, I still have a picture of, and I’m glad I do. Those pictures, of those feelings, have become my memory. When I saw my mom over Christmas, I had a feeling it would be the last time I would see her. So I made a picture.
My mom was an Irish lady with a trip wire temper and a pretty good right cross. She was also a good mom, in her way. She spent her life raising three kids, fiercely, and uprooting us as my dad kept changing jobs. He was gone a lot, so she bought and sold five homes on her own, and stuffed all of us and the dog into a Plymouth Belvedere, and headed for neighborhoods and schools unknown. She also spent her life doing battle with just about anybody she felt looked at her cross-ways, which was just about everybody, including, maybe even especially, her own family. She always spoke her mind. And if you didn’t agree with her, you were just, you know, wrong. Her steely bluntness made for lively family gatherings, which diminished in popularity and numbers over the years.
Ma was just about always at DEFCON One or Two at the least. Prickly to a fault, she went through her day on the alert for any fault or slight, real or perceived. If you did business with her, you pretty much got sued, or at the very least received a legally loaded, relatively unpleasant letter. She went through lawyers like popcorn.
Mom was a sword that cut both ways, of course. Her fearsomely direct approach to parenting left you no doubt as to where you stood as one of her kids, to be sure. But woe to someone she thought might have crossed one of us! One of my high school teachers who didn’t care for my attitude, an Irish Christian brother no less, drastically re-jiggered one of my grades once to negatively affect my GPA. She went to the school and fixed it, and him. I’m sure he said his prayers that night with renewed vigor.
Neighbors were an especially favorite target, especially if they had the temerity to actually stick around, and plant bushes she didn’t find attractive, or re-grade their property so that by her lights their runoff water would then hurtle, Niagara-like, towards her property. Once, a neighbor came over to ask her to shut down the light bulb she kept on overnight above her driveway door. He alleged it was keeping his toddler up at night. I don’t think it was reasonable to ask a 75 year old woman living by herself to shut down the comfort of a 60 watt bulb in the driveway, really. Neither did Ma.
She nodded when informed of the youngster’s sleep travails, and thanked the neighbor for the information. The very next week, after a visit by an electrician, her driveway was lit up with multiple 150 watt floodlights that sprayed so much illumination her place looked like a POW camp, minus the razor wire and the bark-less Dobermans. Those neighbors irked her so much she put up a laundry line on the thin, heavily shaded strip of property between her garage and their backyard, a place where literally, the sun didn’t shine. Every time those folks launched a barbecue or had some company, her undies would go up on the line. They would stay wet, on the line, all day. Drying them, you see, wasn’t the point.
Our parents live on in all of us, of course. Once, approaching the George Washington Bridge in heavy traffic, with four lanes squeezing to two, I went Road Warrior on somebody who was trying to cut in front of me. White knuckling the steering wheel, muttering ancient curses, I was on a bumper grinding heading with this guy when my ever perceptive oldest daughter called out from the passenger seat, “Dad, you’re becoming grandma.” I let the guy in.
All of mom’s flinty antics were of course amusing and exasperating until they became serious. As the police chief of her town said to me and my sisters, “We really don’t want to put an 85 year old in jail. But she has to stop.” Ma was pushing it. In the end she was the one who moved.
We had our bumps, to be sure, and long periods of silence as the years wore on, as she got ever angrier at the world and her diminished power over it. Eventually, given the haze of aging memory, she softened a bit, and there were a couple of visits. At almost 97, she could hear and see just fine, and took one aspirin a day as the sum of her medication. What she couldn’t do particularly well was remember.
She had flashes, though. That last visit, I do think she recognized me, if only briefly, and she reached to hold my hand. As difficult as it was, I made a picture.
We talked for a bit. It was nice. As I left, I made this last photo. I guess I just had a feeling.
She’s gone now. True to form, she resolutely refused to share space with my dad, preferring to go with her mom and pop, at rest in the Bronx. The ground there will be richer for her presence, I’m sure. And, if a tree ever grows out of the earth where my mother lays, I guarantee you it will be a tree to be reckoned with.
Eric Harmon says
I’m sorry for your loss, Joe. I lost my mom last March and the pain is sometimes still very fresh. The photos you poasted are lovely (I especially like the one with the hands) and will provide you with some lasting memories.
Daniel Owen says
Thank you Joe for sharing this. You have helped me to look at my own family and situation in a new light. Thank you.
Ty Michael says
It’s almost to early for this man….
I hope she gets that tree…
I’m sorry for your loss, Joe. Thanks so much for sharing. Touching photos as always.
Kenny McLean says
You’ve done it again, hit right to the core.
I lost my own mother almost two years ago.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of her in her later years, something I now regret.
I’d suggest to anyone reading this post that they take a lesson from you and record these precious moments. I always used the excuse that if I couldn’t do the pictures “properly” I wouldn’t take them at all. How wrong I was. All I have left now is my memories…..
very sorry for your lose joe. thank you for sharing these images + words – i feel like i met your mom…
RIP mother mcnally
So sorry for your loss Joe. You just described my grandmother to a tee and a smile crossed my face. As she laid dying in bed (at 90), the priest told her he was about to turn 60. He asked her what to expect from his 60’s and she replied “Pure hell, sonny. Pure hell!”
My thoughts are with you and your family. Thanks for being gracious with your photos and memories.
Marcel Boudreau says
Wow. Thank you for sharing all of this.
Take the best of care of yourself.
Hello Mr. Joe,
Till now it was your images. Now you move us with your words too. Our prayers to the departed soul.
my condolence to you and family…
Steve K says
Sorry for your loss, Joe.
My cousins and I recently cleaned out the nursing home room of our childless uncle. In his storage locker, we found a treasure-trove of photos (50 years worth; we’re all in our 50s and 60s). Photos were distributed, a few were copied.
I wonder what the next generation will miss by not having those shoeboxes of photos on clean-out day. Strangely, they brought back some wonderful memories and made the chore far more pleasant than otherwise.
Take a picture of a memory, indeed. I asked his former room-mate to take a picture of us pouring over those B&W snapshots using my cellphone camera. Even though technically flawed and terribly cropped, it is one of my absolute favorites.
Stephane Hachey says
Sorry for your loss. You captured some nice peaceful memories of your mom, thank you for sharing.
Touching story. I love the hand image
I don’t usually comment, especially not on personal things such as this – but I wanted to say: what a beautiful encomium you have written for your mother. Thank you for sharing it.
Albert Palmer says
Amazing stories – thanks for sharing.
Tim Skipper says
I’m so glad you did this. My mom was diagnosed with a rare blood disease several years ago now. She looked like herself for a long time until the treatment began in earnest. Then in the end at a little under sixty she passed looking like an eighty year old woman. During that time I never took a picture of Mom, I have no pictures of her and I together. No matter how far I go in this career that is the one failure that will haunt me.
These, as you know, will be you most treasured images.Unless you have lost a mother, no one can understand that pain. Thank you for sharing from your heart, and my prayers are with you.
i’m sorry for your loss. but you have such humanity in feeling, describing, remembering…your mother’s soul must be very proud of you. i don’t know if i would have been able to shoot photos in a similar occasion, but sure it’s your best way to remember and hold those moments…and you did it with tact and kindness. as a son does.
Bob DeChiara says
Very heart warming story. Thanks for sharing Joe.
My condonlences to the McNally family.
I am so sorry for your loss. Moving story and images – a beautiful ode to what looks like an amazing woman.
Joe, I have said it before….you write as well as you shoot. Thank you for sharing this part of your life and your family.
Sorry for your loss. She can go klnowing that she raised one Hell of a man.
Sorry for your loss Joe. Thanks for sharing this post, it really has me thinking. I have lots of pictures to make. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Kurt Ruckelshaus says
Deepest condolences for your loss, Joe.
brilliant and moving writing…
sorry for your loss
Very touching. How wonderful that you got those last shots of her and the hands picture is a real treasure.
My condolences with you and your family.
Thank you for sharing. We are all sorry for your loss.
Sorry for your loss. It is difficult to see one’s parents get older.
My condolences to you and yours.
I, too, have an Irish mam. It’s hard being a son of one. But, you can never take away from any of them the fact that they make men out of boys. It’s taken me a long, long time to come terms with my own mother. I’m glad I have.
Big hugs to you and yours, Joe.
Thank you for sharing. You have managed to share a personal, touching story and still teach an important photography lesson.
From your description I think that the tree that grows will be a thorny crab apple tree, with beautiful flowers in the spring and birds in the winter.
I noticed that every time I look at the photograph of your hands it starts to get blurry after a few seconds, It must be a great example of a picture of a feeling.
Take care, Hug your family,
Joe, my heartfelt condolences to you and your family. You are right that while memories fade, a good picture last forever.
As faithful disciples of our imagery craft, we owe it to ourselves and our love ones to immortalize moments of our time. Thank you Joe for your special skills and ever so generous in sharing these skills to all of us.
Take care man. With kindest regards from your friends in Singapore.
RB Stevens says
Wonderful tribute Joe.
I’m really sorry for your loss Joe, and so soon after you lost that awesome cat. This really brought back memories of my grandmother and the images are so touching and respectful. As always whether you’re writing a funny piece on photography or a poignant personal account the honesty and humanity shows through. You are a damn fantastic human being sir.
Ian Pack says
My condolences to you and your family. Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time. God bless.
Tim Swearingen says
I’m sorry for your loss! I have lived your comments about feeling you need to take a picture. A little over 4 yrs ago I had that feeling about my dad. Squeezed off a “sniper photo” while he was playing w/ his great grandkids. 3 months later he passed. We blew that photo up and put it on his casket. That picture is on my desk today as well. So glad I listened to that instinct!!!
Carlos Bruno says
I’m sorry for your loss boss.
But it’s amazing how you really born to this (life photog) … or this whole time working on it, your reaction is record the moment, even though one of the most difficult for you.
Dude .. you’re the man!
Sorry for your loss. The pictures are outstanding.
Rickey Moore says
Thank you Joe for sharing such an intimate portion of you live with us. Very touching and instructive. Thankful for those photo memories that are packed so full of feeling and life. May the memories of your mom make your life and work richer as these have mine.
Cynthia Farr-Weinfeld says
Wonderful, touching story about your mother, Joe. I’m sorry for your loss–no matter how difficult our dear family members can be, they are still, at the end of the day, our dear family members and are always missed. Best wishes to you and your family. Cindy
A very touching post. I think deep down, she never forgot you. I’m sorry for your loss.
So very sorry for your loss Joe – I haven’t spoken to my mom in a few months over a petty argument but I think after reading this I will give her a call.
Wishing you and your family peace and comfort over the loss of your mother.
Sorry for your loss Joe – and thank you for sharing the story with us.
I’m so sorry for your loss — my condolences to you and your family. Thank you for sharing and touching my heart . . . And teaching a lesson.
Ken HP says
Sorry for your loss.
I think your Mother will live in your mind.
Rick Bern says
Very sorry for your loss Joe. When my father passed this summer I had a similar moment the day before he died. He knew what was coming and didn’t want pictures – so I waited until he closed his eyes. Not easy to look at now, but I’m glad I took it. Thanks for sharing this story and deepest condolences.
Ryan Meyers says
Sorry to hear about your Mom Joe. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Alexei Magonov says
Great loss and great pain indeed.
My deepest condolences and I wish you strength and clear mind in these difficult time.
Just can’t take photo’s of my mom and can’t explain why. It is just too heart wrenching.
Sorry Joe. Can’t imagine saying goodbye. Best to you.
Thought provoking, powerful! Joe, I can relate to your story as my mum’s memory is fading fast. I sometimes wonder how long it will be before she does not remember me at all.
I have refrained from taking pictures of my mum for years now as I did not want to remember her for what she is now rather than the stunning young woman she was. During the war she re-fuelled and re-armed Hurricanes near Biggin Hill. My dad won her over and they were married in 1940, but hundreds of others failed!
In some way I think you have helped me to realise that I should take some shots of her now, for I may live to regret not doing so.
Take care Joe.
Very, very touching, Joe. What a wonderful tale of what must have been a tough, but truly remarkable lady.
Thank you very much for sharing this with us, along with your photos, which as always, strike just the right chord.
Bill Griffin says
Stories like this are why I’m afraid to blog Joe. This took a huge amount of courage to tell about your family life. We all have similar family experiences. It’s rather interesting how you blended visual and verbal feelings.
They are very powerful.
My heart goes out to you. I lost my mom in Sept 2010 and she is missed dearly by my family and friends.
I am so thankful that my mom was always taking pictures. They never bought fancy cameras. Mainly a Polaroid. She taught me the value of taking lots of family photos.
I have many of her with my family. Unfortunately, I spent most of my time behind the camera and only have a few with the two of us together.
Karen Squires says
Hugs to you Joe. A very honest post. People usually glorify the ones who have passed on. I feel being truthful is the best.
For me, when my dad passed away, being honest about his lacking ability as a father helped me move on.
Dave Cleaveland says
I lost my Dad about 2 months ago. It was a combination of Alzheimer’s and Cancer. I tried to make the 7 hour round trip once every two weeks to spend a little time with him. He always knew who I was, although I had to repeat stories six or seven times. I shot a portrait of him last summer looking old and tired, but still smiling, and smoking the cigarettes that eventually killed him. I also have a portrait I did of him about 10 years ago, younger and healthier. That older portrait is hanging on my wall. The more recent one is a file in my computer. I want to remember him in better times, although I’ll never forget his strength and courage in the end. I hope I’m as good a man when it’s my time.
Mike Tittel says
So sorry for your loss Joe. My condolences to you and your family.
Dave Hanichak says
Life is fleeting and it is so important for all of us to make those special photos
of loved ones. We sometimes don’t get the chance “next time”.
Thanks for sharing the story of your Mom and condolences to you and your
Doug Jantz says
THIS is the reason to make pictures. Not the technical stuff we love to talk about, but something with real impact and feeling. My Dad is in his 5th year of Alzheimer’s, mom is doing well. I take pictures of them each time I go visit and now I will be sure to take more. Thank you, Joe, to starting my day off with this is my email. It had an impact on me. The memories you made will be there for you forever. Thank you for sharing. Sorry your mother has gone on but seems she led a rich life.
Mark Schadly says
My deepest sympathy for your loss. I was very moved by your loving tribute. It makes us all stop and reflect on our own Mothers and how they made each of us who we are today.
mark Coons says
My condolences to you and family Joe. Thank you for sharing this with us.
Your Mum was obviously a wonderfully feisty lady, and you have paid her a fitting tribute with your writing and photographs. I am sure she will always live on in your hearts ….
Deb C. says
Powerful images, powerful sentiments. Thank you for sharing with us.
Sacramento Wedding Photographers says
My condolences to your family.
Thank you for sharing the story. Your blog made me “stop and smell the roses” this morning.
Phil mello says
My deepest sympathy Joe.
fausto rowlan says
I’m very sorry for the loss of your mom, and I thank you for writing this and giving us a reminder.
Robert Pljuscec says
My condolences to you and your family Mr. McNally.
I love your writing and your inspirational and realistic take on life. I’m sorry about your mom.
I am very sorry for your loss Joe! My deepest condolences to you and your family.
Thank you for sharing these touching images and moving words with us. Your mum must have been an amazing woman and these photos will be a lasting memory of her.
All the best and God bless.
Justin Van Leeuwen says
Joe, thank you for sharing. She certainly lives on through you, and, I’m assuming, your sisters and your children.
Words my wife holds dear to her heart after the passing of her father… I am sure you’ve heard them before….
May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. May the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, May the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand.
WOW, you’ve penned some beautiful words from the heart and your photos – WOW! We have much in common! So sorry!
Daniel Cooper says
Thanks for sharing Joe, and thanks again for the reminder that we as photographers shouldn’t let these moments slip past. We should capture them and remember through them for all our years.
Joe, you write as well as you photograph. Thank you for sharing and I am sorry for your loss.
Al Dart says
What a beautiful and touching tribute to your mom. I am so sorry for your loss. May God be with you and your family at this difficult time.
Betty Pauwels says
Joe sending you and your family my sympathy. Your tribute for your mother brought me back to my mother with loving memories and many times shaking my head with her comments. She was one of the mosts talented people I know, awesome decorator.
I think I might be coming her as I grow older LOL.
John A. says
My deepest sympathies to you and your family. I went through the loss of my father just last year which was hard on me. At times I really wanted to take one last photo of him, but he was not in good condition in his last days so I never did.
I preferred to remember him how he was before that, and not when he was suffering. I still sometimes regret that I didn’t take one last photo, but I’ve discovered, I still have some pretty good ones in my head.
Thanks again for sharing more than just a “picture”!
Michael Kelley says
elegant and to the point.
just like an Irish Mother!
I’ve hidden in the closet with bajillions of your fans for years. A crowded, but very entertaining, place to be.
The humanity of this post warmed my heart.
We will all go down this road sooner or later.
Vincent Mistretta says
I’m terribly sorry for your loss. Your post is well said. After meeting you and your 2 sisters at DLWS, it is clear that the McNally family lives on stronger becuase of your mom. I will say a prayer for you all.
John Fowler says
My sincere condolences on the loss of your mom, Joe. And my sincere thanks for your moving words and wondrous way with a camera.
Bob Kelly says
Thank you Joe, for sharing your thoughts and your Mom with me. I am sitting in the Seattle airport with some down time, and your photos and words touched me deeply, and of course as you might have expected, caused me to reflect on my “Mom” moments, which all of us have. In addition to your technical expertise on flash and photography you shoot from the hip and the heart at the same time, laying it all out there in clear, sometimes graphic, but as in this case deeply touching words. Your Mom would be proud of you for what you said and why, and as I fly to the midwest and home, I will recall these minutes here and how they touched me. Thank you.
Giorgio Cravero says
I’ve lost my father one year ago. And I’m a photographer too. And now, only god knows if I would have the same “feeling” and if I had photographed him more.
Now I would have something more that just memories and old photos…
My condolences an a tough.
Rebekah @ It Only Gets Better says
Joe, I am so sorry for your loss and so glad you were able to see her before she passed. Your words and images of her made me smile and have inspired me to take pictures of my favorite old folks now before I don’t have that opportunity.
Corey McNabb says
Very moving. Thank you very much for sharing… even in mourning, you touch us all. I’m sorry for your loss.
bizior photography says
what a touching story… I bet it takes a lot to write about it, thanks for sharing and sorry for your loss
The first shot is fantastic. Very nice write up.
Sorry to hear about your mother as well.
Very inspiring to about photographs.
Linda Brinckehroff says
Condolences to the McNally clan on your loss of Mother McNally.
Thanks for beautifully articulating your observations as a child of a “Fighting Irish” parent. You have “re-framed” some of my thoughts of my own father.
-Linda Kane Brinckerhoff
Geoff Douglas says
As always, a great inspiration…sorry for your loss Joe.
Sue T says
Joe, your mom was a grande lady! She was an honest woman. She voiced what many of us think. Good on her for being true to herself, her family and her neighbours! That takes true grit.
My condolences …
sorry for your loss, Joe.
You are as effective with the words as your pictures. You have shot stunning images which say farewell in so many words.
I am sorry for your loss.
Ronny Hermans says
My condolences to you and your family.
Erik Endress says
That is a truly beautiful story. The photos are amazing (as usual) but your words are what is impactful here. My parents are in the same age bracket and today, you inspired me to make sure I get that photo before it is an opportunity missed.
Laura Eliza says
I am sorry to hear of your loss, thank you for sharing all you did.
It was wonderful to read this post. My grandmother is half Irish, and very similar to your mom. I already found her personality precious (if at times shocking) and treasured the little bit of her personality that I inherited. I do so even more now.
Huey Yoong says
Your mother’s most admirable achievement is in form of the strong fighter yet poetic light catcher that is you, Joe.
I’m sure she will rest in peace & yes, we can take photos of a feeling… thanks for a post that brought tears to my eyes. Big big hugs.
Owen Colborne says
I am sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing the story of her life.
My condolences to you and your family.
Michael Sebastian says
Joe, God bless her. One thinks sometimes the Almighty makes some folks more “difficult” as a challenge for the rest of us to rise to.
My condolences to you and your family, and may she rest in peace, at last.
Juan C Ettedgui says
My mom left just a year ago. i have her last pic too. Have my condolences Joe and Family.
Deb Hollister says
Sorry to hear that you have lost your mom, Joe. In your beautiful way, you have honored her life and character with your words.
Beautiful post & images Joe, they really resonate with me. Perhaps it has something to do with being Irish myself and when growing up my Mum has had 9 kids, a husband and small business to juggle. Thankfully she doesn’t have much of a right cross and we only saw ‘the wooden spoon’ (traditional punishment at the time) when we really pushed our luck.
I keep meaning to photography the family individually before any of us leave the land of the living, this post has given me the fresh kick in the arse required to just get it done.
Condolences for your loss and thanks for sharing.
Kristina J says
Thank you for sharing and condolences to you and your family for your loss. Such moving images, I know they were hard to make.
Maggie Steber says
Joe, there simply are not words that can fill that space where your
mother’s body existed. It’s the hardest thing in so many ways….the
mother ship has sailed leaving us to float in space on our own.
She was a lovely woman and she made herself a fine strong son who
is exemplary. Thank you for loving her and for sharing these photographs
and thoughts with all of us. This is a shared experience and can bring
all of us closer together in the moment. Maggie
Joe – Sorry for your loss. I made a similar series of images of my grandmother before she passed away… somehow I too knew it might be the last time I was able to be with her. Thank you so much for sharing this moment in your life, as a person and as a photographer.
Tom Lynn says
Joe, thank you for sharing this during a difficult time.
Buddy Lee says
And this is one of the reasons to make those photos. After all memories are all that are truly left of a life well lived and photos help clarify those memories. Those are the real treasures of life. Thanks for sharing this part of your life Joe! You certainly struck a chord with me. As you usually do! The loss of a parent is a defining moment in ones life. Sorry for your loss. Our prayers are with you.
Jane Russell says
Your Mom sounds a lot like my Mum, who passed away a few years ago. It’s a hard thing. And also hard to believe that you are the oldest generation in the line! Her love lives on in the most beautiful places you can imagine.
Barbara Cameron says
My mom passed almost three years ago. On her final day, as all of the family gathered around, I had that same feeling… take pictures! But I didn’t, fearful of criticism from my siblings. I will always regret that decision. The poignant images from that monumentous event will always be in my head and heart. Thank you for sharing your pictures and words, they have touched me deeply.
Steve L says
I know her spirit will live on…
Our sincere condolences on your loss.
Tom Northenscold says
What a powerful, moving tribute to a steely woman.
Kathy Chin says
My heart felt very sad reading your story…for more reasons than the obvious. Sounds like you and your Mom had lots of challenges throughout the years.
Thank you for giving us a glimpse deep into your soul…you touched us all Joe and we share your pain without ever having known your Mother.
I’m so very sorry for your loss…blessings to your entire family!
If there’s one word that describes family, it’s “complicated.”
May the Lord grant you and your family peace during this time. I’m sorry for your loss.
Scott LaBarre says
I was very moved by the honesty and love you expressed
in your mom’s “eulogy”. Relationships are never simple and seldom what
we wish but your mother’s flintsteel traits prepared you in a unique
way for the incredible journey that has been your life. I am sorry
for your loss. Thanks for sharing and encouraging us all with
your great work.
Sorry for your loss, Joe. Moms are special, no matter how hot tempered they are, huh? I got a great LOL with the “Dad, you’re becoming Grandma” story.
I don’t know you, but I almost feel like I do from reading your books and blog. I appreciate your honesty and the challenge to take a picture even when it’s uncomfortable. The few times I’ve done that, I’ve created photos that are the most precious ever. Thanks for the reminder. I think I’ll get out of my comfort zone again and ask my 90 year old neighbors if I can take their photo together. I hope my husband and I are just like them someday…
jim frazier says
Wonderful post. I’m sorry for your loss but glad you had a meaningful last visit. And you look like her too!
Lorri E says
Joe, once again you have made me laugh & cry in the same post. I’m so sorry for your loss. Nothing ever prepares us for the loss of a parent.
Thanks for reminding all of us that there are photos that are more important than getting that perfect shot. Sometimes as photographers we are too busy trying to get those special shots that we forget to photograph those everyday moments that will mean more to us years from now.
Joe, sorry for your loss. I’m glad you got to have your moment with your mom. I thank her for helping you become the person you are today. And I am ever grateful that I had the chance to speak with you and shake your hand.
Corinna See says
Thank you Joe for sharing. What beautiful images and descriptive story of your mother. I’m sorry for your loss.
chuck kovach says
So sorry for your loss. You’ve written a beautiful tribute to her. Sharing such a difficult, personal time like this, I’m sure, makes all your followers feel closer to you, not as a photographer, but as a person. I know thats how I feel.
CJ Kern says
Sorry to hear of your loss Joe. Lovely tribute.
David Kenny says
Joe, as usual, your images say it all. However, your nack at prose is supurb. Thank you for sharing your Mom with us; for sharing your memories with us; and for sharing a special, and sad, moment. Know that your community is saying a prayer for yor and your Mom. Know that your Mom is looking down on you, with a hugh smile. God Bless.
Jose Lopez says
A great post Joe… You are a Great Photographer because of your Great Mom…
Thanks for sharing Joe. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.
David Kenny says
Joe, as usual, your images say it all. However, your nack at prose is supurb. Thank you for sharing your Mom with us; for sharing your memories with us; and for sharing a special, and sad, moment. Know that your community is saying a prayer for yo and your Mom. Know that your Mom is looking down on you, with a hugh smile. God Bless.
Glenn Nagel says
I’m very sorry to hear of your loss. Your blog post and photos are very moving.
Gerald Lim says
Thanks for sharing your mom with us Joe. My Condolences ~
Joe, I’m very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing her story and for reminding us to take photos of our loved ones.
Jeff McDonald says
This was hard for me to read as I also lost my Mother recently. She shared your Mom’s ‘strong will’, so I could picture her as I read your stories. I’m glad that you were able to spend some time with your Mom during her final days, and you captured some powerful images of her that will be treasured memories in the future. Please accept my condolences for your family’s loss, and my thanks for sharing this with your online ‘friends’.
Thanks for sharing.
It’s one step further on just technical exchange.
After all, we are all part of each other’s life in one way or another.
Sorry for the loss. A very touching obituary, even if you didn’t intend this post to be one.
Marc Roth says
So very sorry for you loss. You have created an incredible eulogy to your mother with your words and your camera. I’m sure she will be missed. You are in my prayers. – Marc
John Batdorff says
Your story remind me quite a bit of my own mother. I wish you and your family the best. John
The photos here are the ones that every photographer holds dear to him/her. Sorry for your loss Joe.
Rick Massie says
I’m so sorry for your loss Joe. Words can’t help, but I hope that you and your family can be close at this time. Take care, and cherish the memories.
Alice G Patterson says
I”m sorry for your loss, and so profoundly thankful for you sharing this candid tribute to your ma. Photographing feelings, is a wonderful challenge, lesson, and reminder.
Thank you for sharing. Will offer prayers up for you and your family. Family is rarely simple, but it doesn’t have to be simple for love to exist.
Condolences to you Joe.
Keith Heneghan says
Joe, my deepest condolences to you and your family.
I just read your post while my grandfather was visiting us after the birth of his great grandson.
He is also in his mid nineties and it is often on my mind that we must make the most of these opportunities since there are probably so few left.
All the best,
I regret to this day that I didn’t take photos of my mom in the last days I spent with her. Not that she would have let me, she was very very ill and not at her best. Those memories will just have to be in my mind and heart.
I’m very sorry for your loss.
I’m so sorry for you lost
Mike Nelson Pedde says
Joe: This has always been a favourite.
Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on the snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.
“Throughout the years, this poem has appeared in many places and in many forms. The original was written in 1942 by Baltimorean Mary Frye on the back of a brown paper bag. Frye wrote the poem for a friend whose mother had died in Germany; the daughter had been unable to attend the funeral because of World War II.”
Joe thank you for sharing this with us. Im truly sorry for your loss.
Ted B. says
You are very lucky to have such photos Joe. I wish I had more of my Mom. My condolences on your loss. It sounds like your Mother had a long life without a dull moment. There is some solace in that. This post is very well written, thanks for putting it out there.
Il n’y a pas beaucoup de mots Ã dire dans ces moments. Simplement merci de nous rappeler que nous devons prendre soin de ceux qui sont encore lÃ .
Avec toutes mes condolÃ©ances
Stephan Haas says
Joe, sorry for your loss.
It’s a touching story,accompanied by just the right pictures.
Dan Appel says
Please accept my condolences for the passing of your mother. I’m glad to hear you acted on instinct – that inexplicable gut feeling – that a picture was due in a moment. My father passed away in Jan. 2007, and I miss him dearly. May your memories be filled with the good and treasured moments of your time together. And, may God bless you and comfort you and your family in the weeks to come.
Kevin H. Stecyk says
I am sorry for your loss. It’s amazing how all our lives are so very different and yet so much alike.
Thank you for being open and sharing your experience. I wish you and your family the best.
Rob Byron says
I’m very sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. Your post today is very touching and rings of a son who loved his mother very much and no matter what. Rest assured that she now rests in heaven as Saint Peter would dare not stand in her way. 🙂
God bless you and your family.
Pedro Vasconcellos says
Strenght my friend. I’ve shred some tears for your ma, and she’ll be on my prayers.
Ian Mylam says
That was a great tribute to your mother, Joe. Having loved and lost my own mother in tragic circumstances, your words struck a chord with me. From my own experience, despite the multitude of emotions you surely experienced towards your mother while your relationship with her was still a work in progress, I am sure there is only one emotion that will ultimately endure after her passing, an emotion manifestly evident in your post; everything else is transient. And 1 Corinthians 13 says all there is to say on that.
TM Surratt says
I’m so very sorry for your loss Joe but it sounds like you will carry her with you throughout your life as most of us carry our thoughts and memories and even our tempers that were pasted down. I say to you as I would anyone in this situation that she is in a better place.
Lovely job. The photos show that they were taken with intimate caring.
Bless you and the family.
Rusty Moore says
Sorry to hear of your loss, Joe. Your story and photos were very moving. Very familiar too, as I lost my own mother in pretty much the same circumstances just a couple years ago.
Mario Brathwaite says
Thank you for sharing such a moving testament to your mother. My heartfelt condolences to you and your family.
Keith I says
Thank you for sharing this. I was very happy I took photos of my grandfather holding his great granddaughter (my daughter) shortly before he left us. I will always have that photo.
Garen Johnson says
I too am so sorry for your loss Joe. I lost my 56 year old mother 8 years ago before I was a photographer and I so wish I had been able to document her life like you have here…well done, and very moving tribute…
No words … only emotions and the desire to give a hug … seems like only yesterday I also was in the same place …
From one of the many who appreciate the fine man that that fine woman gave the world. I wish I had known her.
Tom England says
Thanks for sharing your story. Thanks for letting us in.
John Tebbetts says
Joe, I’m so very sad and sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing what we all need remember, and my thoughts and prayers are with you.
Gale Bizet says
Dear Joe and your Family
My heart goes out to you.
You were raised strong,and you have no fear.
Thank you for your books and teachings.
An artist with a camera, words and feelings you are Joe. My sympathy goes out to you as you try to figure out the why and how.
Dan Beauvais says
Twelve paragraphs, so many lessons. Thank you Joe, and may your Mom find peace.
Doug Grosjean says
I’m sorry for you loss. Beautiful writing, and beautiful photos. Thank you for the the touching reminder of one of the reasons so many of my photos are of my loved ones. But my oh my, the ones that got away…
Janez Marolt says
I’m sorry, Joe.
Surely the strongest of your newsletters.
Photos that managed to transmit emotions best…which in my opinion is the definition of art.
No better way to honor your mom, than through your magnificent photographs and your beautifully written and very personal thoughts. Thank you for sharing them.
Please accept my heartfelt sympathy.
Andres Trujillo says
My condolences Joe, and I appreciate you sharing this as it is a difficult time. Thanks
Weldon Spurling says
God bless you Joe, you touch and inspire us in so many ways
My condolences to you and your family. All the best in this difficult period.
Fred Troilo says
Beautiful Joe, both your words and images.
Launa Bodde says
I’m sorry for this time of grief, in whatever form it takes for you. These images are ultimately what photography and art is about for me. Your mother would be ever so proud of you! As a parent you know that whatever our faults, our children’s bravery and resilience is really what matters to us in the end. You have both in remarkable quantities, and I am sure that is exactly what she hoped she was instilling. I am sure she is at peace.
Monica Roman Gagnier says
Joe — So sorry for the loss of your mother. The family resemblance is striking! Best regards, Monica Roman Gagnier
Patrik Lindgren says
What a beautiful post, warm and very heartful. You do have a way with words, my respect for you as a person just keeps growing.
I’m sorry for your loss!
Joe….sorry for your loss. And thank you very much for this private story from you and your mom. My respect is with you. I have had nearly the same situation over two years ago…but I can’t write it down on my blog…for me is it to private to share my feelings about this sitution with the hole world.
I’m sure your mom is take care of you every day and one day you will see her again…
Deb P says
Oh my gosh Joe, this post really was something else. Thank you for sharing it. I lost my mom recently and the thought of looking at photos of her is still too much for me. Thank you for your courage to share this.
John Caetano says
Sorry for your loss, may she RIP. I can understand how difficult it is to deal with, but one day you will meet again. May God bless.
andy stenz says
As people who get paid to take photos so often it feels like we are not taking the time to take photos of our own loved ones enough. This post made me cry Joe. There is a simple beauty in it – a wonderful memory of your mom and a wonderful reminder to us all. We are all headed toward our end and yet we have these feelings, these moments, now. Let us capture them and remember them as long as we can.
My deepest sympathies to you Joe, and to your family.
Norbert Dabkowski says
Reading your post today, I am very sorry for your loss. Please accept my sincere condolonces.
Your train of thoughts as ever is overwhelming – this time with loads of emotion. Thank you for that. And the photos… The last one made me shed a tear.
All the best to you,
I’m sorry, Joe.
Bless you and the family.
Made me think about losing my Dad, no photos as I was on the other side of the world 🙁
Best wishes to you and your family for the loss of your Mum… and thank you for sharing what was truly the most moving post I’ve ever read.
Thank you, and thank your mom…
the world is diminished without her opinion… and those of her generation.
It sounds to me that she passed in you the tenacious spirit to strive for excellence in your craft, and for that we should all thank her. Condolences to you and your family Joe.
Kevin Corry says
Joe – you have been an ispiration to my photography, and I just wanted to say I wish you well at this difficult time. All the best to you and family.
Joe – I hope you don’t mind me saying so, but you look a lot like her. Thanks for the post and the pictures. And for you and yours a traditional gaelic blessing:
Go n-Ã©irÃ an bÃ³thar leat
Go raibh an ghaoth go brÃ¡ch ag do chÃºl
Go lonraÃ an ghrian go te ar d’aghaidh
Go dtite an bhÃ¡isteach go mÃn ar do phÃ¡irceanna
Agus go mbuailimid le chÃ©ile arÃs,
Go gcoinnÃ Dia i mbos A lÃ¡imhe thÃº
Tom Peterson says
Nice post. I’m sorry for the loss of your mom. From your story I can see where her son gets his “shyness”. Sounds like she was a lot like you and if she was, she was a real pistol. I’m sure she’s been her old vibrant self in your heart.
Melissa R says
I’m sorry for your loss and the mixed feelings you must have at the moment. I hope your coming year is one with less loss and more joy.
Jordan Haiduk says
What a beautiful post. Images and story. So sorry for your loss.
Noel Hannan says
Joe, I read your blog like I have read your books; from cover to cover and back to front. I was very touched at the story you hVe shared with us about your Mother. I too have an Irish Mother and was born and bred in Dublin, the old country. Your reflections on Irish Mothers are spot on, my own being exactly as yo describe yours. I am, however a bit more fortunate, as my Mother is still with us, she’ll outlive us all, please God.
My Father refused to send me to the Christian Brothers secondary school; I didn’t complain mind you, but your story about that rings true too! Let’s just say they were a bit over-zealous in their teaching methods, back then it was before corporal punishment was outlawed. I was quite content in a comprehensive, thank you very much.
well, thanks again for sharing, I now live in England, so a reminder of Ireland is always welcome. If yo get a chance, drop in on my Irish blog… http://Www.infiniteireland.blogspot.com.
ll the best
Sorry to read this one, Joe.
Thanks for sharing it with all of us.
So moving, so close.
James Cheng says
This is why you’re amazing Joe, your ability to share, to tell a story, to bring a heart felt warmth to what must be a very difficult time. Condolences to you and your family, be well!
I’m sorry for you loss.
Barbara Thorbjornsson says
One is always tempted to deify those we have just lost; usually out of some feeling of guilt; and I thank you for trusting us enough to share your mom, just as she was, with us.
Deepest sympathies to you and your family.
Dawn Zimdars says
Working at a funeral home I see and hear touching and extraordinary stories of lives lived and feel the loss and desperation of grief. Thank you for sharing the most touching and personal feelings and images and for sharing such a wonderful story of your mother. It surely made me laugh as well as brought me to tears and I wanted you to know I’ve shared this link with an Irish friend of mine who will be deeply touched and I cannot wait to hear her reply 🙂
May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at you back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields and, until we meet again may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Dean Souleles says
Condolences Joe. Thank your for sharing with us. Thoughts and prayers are with you.
YOu say your “Irish” joe? I would have never guessed.. LoL.. You mother reminds me very very much like a twin of my favorite aunt that just about raised me.. She was a pistol. She was a orphan and I never knew this as she keep it a secret until she died. She had the warmth of a saint and welcoming arms to any stranger and offered a meal to anyone that came thru her door. But at the same time she had no reserve to tell you the truth and swear like a sailor if you crossed her or did something wrong. She worked at “Lockhead Martin” and one time a boss of her grabbed her butt and she balled up her fist and punched the boss and laid the man out “she got written up for doing this by the way” can you imagine that. These days that boss would be out of a job and looking for a job for a long time these days if he had done something like that now. Thanks for sharing the story its great you have a mother like this and memories that you have. She will always be in your heart as the one that shaped and molded you. Great story and thanks for sharing it with all of us.. Sorry for you loss but in reality you still have her with you everywhere you go in life she is right there.
Thanks for sharing your story, Joe. You are a great story teller and I think that’s part of what makes you such a great photographer. I’m so sorry for the circumstances of this one though… my thoughts and prayers are with you, buddy.
Amryl Malek says
My heart weeps reading this. Your mom was such a character… So sorry for your lost..
Always the rule breaker. “A picture is worth a thousand words” but you broke that one, too. You’re words carry as much weight as the images this time.
Nigel Walker says
May the heavens be a richer place – my sincerest condolences to you and your family.
Karen Vournakis says
Very moving rememberance of your Mom.
I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Thanks for sharing it with us.
John Lewis says
Joe- I am sorry to hear about the passing of your mother. I can tell form how you write about her that she was a great influence on your life. And probably why your pictures tell real stories, about real people and real situations so often.
Don Koehler says
Joe – so very sorry at the loss of your mother. My wife and I went through the same about a year ago with my mom at 95. The love comes through in your beautiful words. Your photos, as always, show how close you were. Stay strong my freind.
Ian Loomes says
Thank you so much for sharing with us Joe. Very sorry for your loss, I’ll look for you at Photoshopworld Orlando and we’ll raise a glass to your wonderfull mother.
Randy Cole says
So sorry for your loss. Your mom shares a lot of personality with my Dad. He’s in a veteran’s home, so I’m not far from your same situation and feelings.
Joe I just re read your story on you mother… Oh My god she was just like my aunt! She loved stray animals of any kind squirals to dogs to cats to birds. She did not keep the animals like a cat lady she would just find good homes or a way to help those animals. she was very well off as money goes and worked hard in her job and had a big house and property but she would have most likely done the same exact thing with the neighbor and the light bulb. I had a cousin once that had a kid out of wed lock and did not seem to care about her child and my aunt I remember distinctly saying that my cousin needing to have that thing “Sewn up or put a cork in it” I think my aunt was cut from the same mold from your mother she to was a catholic irish woman with flaming red hair. She was a pistol but boy do I sure miss her. In many ways she pretty much made a lifetime impression on me and who I am and how I deal with people. Perhaps from my other posts you can see this. I think people like this are here on this earth for many reasons but one of the I think is to perhaps to give us a sense of balance. If we have all politically correct nice people that never say the “Truth” or “How it is” sort of thought how do we base things in life. We need a sense of both sides of the balance beam. A bit of far left and far right and then we can decide for ouselves were we want to be on that balance beam. But the moral of the story is “NOT” to be to far on the left or the right but a good balance of “Both” sides. She in this way she gave us that perspective or insight how not to be sometimes yet on the other hand she showed us how to stick up for ourselves. She also showed us how to be “Resilient” and face hard times or lifes struggles and get through them without any help. I would have like to have met her and bet I would have enjoyed a long conversation with her on that “Ornery” porch or driveway she protected so well. 🙂
Sorry for you loss
Also keep in mind your mom grew up in a different world and a different time.. Things were tough when she grew up. She “Had” to be tough. She lived through the depression era and raised 3 kids with her being the only one around as you father was away working and such.. Thats not easy… IF anything I really respect her and her sense of humor with the security lights and the neighbors that should have told their toddler kid to shut the blinds on his window and go to sleep and to stop “Sniveling” or give him something to really complain about. She sounded like one heck of a strong and no nonsense woman. I tip my hat to her.
Ed Kilner says
Sorry for your loss. My mother was much the same. Born in Glasgow of Irish parents, came to Canada in 1926. Fierce but loving. Combatitive, especially when her hearing began to fail and drink increased. Some family gatherings and parties were rather Celtic as a result.
Extra good photos. Wish I had done the same, but she died during the time I had lost interest in shooting.
Your love for her is very evident. Take care of yourself and family – she would.
Beautiful photos and post.
Joe, so sorry for your loss.
I’m sure that tree will be a tough one!
Her hand in the photo is so strong, it speaks volumes!
Thanks for sharing this with all of us
Debbie W says
I’m sorry for your loss. Your tribute and photographs are wonderful. Some of what you said reminds me a lot of my mother when she was younger…I think I will give her a call now. My thoughts with you and your family.
Dear Joe, Thanks for sharing your story. Wonderful pictures, so sensitive. I lost my mom in 2005. Your pictures took me right back to her and her last moments. Thank you.
Cary Spangler says
A beautiful tribute to your mother. Sorry to hear of your loss.
Beautiful words, images and emotions, Joe.
I have one of those too. Your post touched me. I’m deeply sorry for your loss. I recognize your love paired with the recognition that it couldn’t have been any other way.
Man. Wow. Tks Joe for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I wish I could offer some sort of wise point of comfort, outside of the fact that I cringe to the day I’ll yet face the same. I can’t even imagine what you are going through other than I’m so happy for you that you got the shots that you knew in your heart to take. Peace man. Peace to you and your family. I appreciated learning about her. Family is such a funny thing and how yet they always seem to be important one way or another.
Tks again man.
Bill Ferguson says
Sorry to hear of your loss Joe. Thank you for sharing such a personal insight into not only yours, but her life as well. Though not directly, but through your gifted touch and use of medium, she will be remembered in all our hearts as we take notice and reflect upon our own existence. She made the best of things and raised a wonderful family…sticking it to those that didn’t approve along the way…sounds like someone we’d all like to share a pint with. My sincerest condolences.
Tim V. says
Truly Touching Mr. Mcnally.
Thanks for sharing, From one loving family to another, our deepest condolences.
So sorry to hear of your loss.
Joe, Thanks for the words. Having lost a step-son and both my in-laws in the past four months I know a little of how you feel. This last summer I took a photo of my mother, who is still alive. We sat one evening at an outdoor restaurant listening to a string quartet. I shot the pic with no flash and did no post-production. My mother would break my arm if she saw it; wrinkles, scars, bad light. But in the pic there is no mistaking the indomitable spirit, pride, and toughness that makes my mother a survivor. Traits she passed on to her four children. If only our loved ones could see our vision of them. You captured your mother exquisitely. The photos show why you’re one of the best ever. Thanks.
Sorry for your loss Joe. Excellent photo of your Mom. You look a lot like her. And now I know why you have so many speed lights.
Good sharing. God bless.
Michael Murphy says
My deepest regards…
John Bailey says
May your mom rest in peace. You penned a great eulogy – the best include the truth. You will always remember the best and worst times and what parts of her stay with you. She reminded me of my mom, Irish dad and German mom, a great combination 🙂 Peace be with you.
Joe, Sorry for your loss. I can’t help but think of how proud of you she must have been, though from your description of her, it may have been left unsaid.
I’m struck by the simplicity of your photos in this post. You never really cease to amaze me- your photography is truly breath taking, and your writing really is far beyond ‘really great’. No wonder I love your books.
Thanks man, , blessing for you and your family!
J W Nienstedt says
Very honest post, Joe. It’s funny how our relatives who were so tough to handle while they were alive live the longest and strongest in our memories.
Abhijit Bhatlekar says
Sorry for your loss, Joe. May her soul rest in peace..!!
Abhijit Bhatlekar says
What was her first name, Joe..? And your Dad’s..??
Bob Dein says
You have a way of getting to me. Bob
Travis Forbear says
Very nice words and photographs Joe. I know a photograph or memory is ever the same as a loved one in our arms, but they’re nice little reminders. Truly sorry for your loss.
I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes. What a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing that glimpse of your mother. I’m sorry for your loss but happy you made those pictures.
Todd Badeaux says
Joe, I am so sorry to learn of your recent loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers. May God be with you in your time of sorrow.
peace be to you all …
Denys Finney says
Great work Joe, words and images.
Mr McNally so sorry for you loss. My thoughts an prayers are with you. Thank you so much for sharing a part of your life — makes one stop and think about what is really important.
Am sorry for your loss Joe… your story about your mom has inspired me to always shoot with my heart.
Robert E says
..I wish, that I would have taken my camera to our mother’s room that last time … my heart to you and your family.
There’s some ass kicking going on in Heaven I’m sure!
Doug Evans says
Your writing is as clever, crafty and sharp as your shooting. I was really moved with the clarity and honesty as you wrote of your “Ma.” It’s eloquent and powerful, a beautiful remembrance of a unique woman who was strong beyond the comprehension of most. I’m saddened for your loss and can appreciate your words and photos, very much. The photos you made during your Christmas visit are powerful! Your holding hands and parting view images brought misty eyes.
My Grandfather, Andrew Kelemen, was born in Hungary and came to the US at 5 when his outrageously strict parents arrived here to start a life in America. My Grandfather and I had a unique relationship in his later years, but living with my Grandfather as a boy was a military like drill in discipline and responsibility. Tough then, I appreciate it now. Have missed him and his commanding presence (even at 88) since ’05.
My Great-GrandMother, Madeline MacAlister, would have hoisted her bloomers in a similar fashion of protest along with a Scottish wail and shaking fist. We were terrified of her as children… I still hold dearly to me a very tiny, very thick sweater she hand knit for me over the course of a summer stay in Rockport, MA many years ago. As a child, I don’t recall that I ever wore it. It’s the garment of a craftsmen.
Thank you for sharing another story and piece of yourself. I wish you comfort and tranquility within. …If that tree ever does grow there, it will be mighty indeed!
My thoughts are with you,
Rex Peterson says
Thank you Joe for sharing the story. If there is one thing I wish I could get thru folks’ heads is to take photos of mom & dad while they are alive. I have precious few of my father, and vowed to not let that happen with my mom. They always have an excuse, my mother’s favorite was that her hair wasn’t “done”. I would get in her face and take a photo anyway. Eventually she relented and relaxed, and allowed me to get some images that to me & my sisters are priceless.
Thanks again. I know how hard it is, the hurt never goes away completely, and I’m glad it doesn’t. It forces us to remember.
Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Anima eius, et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum, per misericordiam Dei nostri, requiescant in pace.
Joe, my condolences to you and your family, and thanks for sharing a bit of your mom here. My second child just arrived January 2, and having two kids rather than one has made me realize how short time is getting for Grandma and Grandpa. Taking pictures of my parents (thank God, I still have them both) when we get together has gained a new urgency.
Rick Freschner says
So sorry for your loss. I lost my Mom 4 years ago today and wish I had taken the time to get a few more images to remember her by. Thanks for sharing your memories with us.
Matt Penning says
Joe – God bless you, your Mom, and your family. Thank you for sharing your photographs of her, and her story & your story. Such is the lifeblood of life. Rich memories.
Radhames Tatis says
Extremely touching to me Joe, especially when at this very moment my mom and I are at ends with each other and not on speaking terms. My sincere Condolences for your loss.
Thank You very much for sharing.
Doug Pruden says
Please accept my condolences for your loss. I lost my mother almost 20 years ago very suddenly and still miss her deeply. The hardest thing about growing older as children is watching our parents become ordinary human beings with all the exposed failings that entails. Despite my Mom’s alcoholism, as time passes I find I remember more her spirit and the true soul she is and less the pain, pity and passion that was her life. Perhaps that is time’s healing gift; to allow us to see the soul of our loved ones as God knows them and receives them into heaven. I will remember her and you in my prayers.
Terri Queen says
Thank you for sharing such personal, beautiful tribute to your Mom. You have lost her physical presence but her spirit is very much alive in your heart. My prayers are with you and your family. May you all find comfort in your treasury of memories.
Dean B. cade says
Sadly, at least for me, a lot of us seem to have shared similar parenting.
My photograph, the last of my mother, still haunts me.
Joe, I am very sorry for your loss.
life is good but “tempus fugit”!
Thanks for your blog posts,
Beautiful – thanks for sharing.
Michael P. Majewski says
Joe – I am very saddened to hear of your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family.
All my condolences to you and your family.
Very sorry for your loss! May her rest in peace…
Mark H says
Sorry to hear this sad news. Your photos will help to keep her memory alive I’m sure. I find it really amazing how you can put your feelings into words, especially at this time.
Sincere condolences to you and your family.
So sorry to hear the passing of your Mom. Thank you for writing such a moving and frank story. Your pictures are wonderful, now I know where you got your determination from.
I am only 40 and have lived half my life without my parents but as I trundle along life’s path I notice more and more how much of them is in me and I too have to hold back from becoming them at times especially my Gran, from Partick, Glasgow. I know you’ll remember the great times and remember even the tough times with humour in your heart. I guess it’s about time heaven had a little kick up the pants anyway. You may never stop missing her but you will get used to her being away…….. Better look over your shoulder if the thought of HDR pops into your head.
Thanks for sharing, take good care.
Alexis Argyris says
Very touched. Thanks for sharing
Andy Chubb says
so glad that you were able to spend some time with your mother and capture a precious moment that lets you remember all that you are because of her. We owe our parents so much more than words can say, and can only try to pass that on to our own children as best we can.
Thank you for sharing your story. The picture of you holding hands brought tears to my eyes.
Jay Mann says
My Condolences Joe.
Tim Grondstein says
Our condolences to you and your family, Joe. In moments like this, i remember a sermon in my hometown Hannover when the bishop said: “Man kann nicht tiefer fallen, als in Gottes Hand” (you can not fall lower than in God’s hands). I think that is very true and i hope this notion can give you the same strength.
Stephen Dann says
A beautiful and moving tribute to your mother. Sorry to hear of your loss, my condolences to you and your family.
Gilbert Ho says
A beautifully written tribute, Joe.
Pedro Cardoso says
My condolences. A mother is always a mother and losing a dear beloved is sh*t.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and pictures. They are forever.
Joe, my condolences to you and your family.
Pat Morrissey says
Our Irish mothers always punched above their weight. Sorry for your loss.
Sorry to hear of your loss, and I respect the words to tell it like it was.
You have inspired me to make a record of the beautiful people my parents are before I am left with only memories.
May God rest her soul.
Ed Baumgarten says
My best to you and yours Joe……..
oh man-want to say something, don’t know what to say. peace be with you.
Chris Rowe says
What else can I say. So sorry for your loss Joe – my thoughts are with you and yours.
Best post yet.
I’m sure it was very hard to take those.
Din AA says
Joe, I am very sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing.
Eric Tan says
Sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family.
Sorry for your loss.
So sorry for your loss but what a beautiful gift you’ve given us to see her – in both your words and photos.
Noah D. says
Thank you for sharing this, Joe.
Right after I moved overseas for a semester in college, I took a few photos of my grandfather, which also became his final photos. He was dying of Alzheimer’s at the time.
Like you say, photos become your memory. To borrow one of your own thoughts from a blog a while back: “Photos are our footprints; they’re the best way to show people we were here.”
A beautiful and honest tribute about a mother who obviously knew what was really important in life. She reminds me of… me! May your memories sustain you in the hard times.
Sorry for your loss.
Chris Lim says
She will be watching you from above…. 🙂
My deepest condolences to you and your family. I’m so sorry for your loss. All my best wishes.
David Gralian says
my heart and prayers go out to you and your family. Even if a passing is expected, it still hits the heart. Thank you for your beautiful writeup, it reminds and reinforces me to remember to capture the moments, as you never know if you’ll get the chance again.
My best to all of you.
I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for opening up and sharing the story about your mom and taking those photographs, despite how hard it must have been to do that. I wish you wellness and healing during this hard time.
I loss my mom a month after I graduated college almost 10 years ago. The last photographs I have of her are with her and my dad and some family. I am so glad I have those because at least my last visual memory of her was happy. It didn’t make the pain any less severe but it did make those memories all the better.
Very touching and the same time inspiring. I am sorry for your loss.
My deepest condolences for you loss … Am touched with hoe deep the pictures are!
Sorry for your loss. Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. Lost him two years ago so we went to the grave to visit. I know your pain. Your post was so eloquent, descriptive, and humorous. Thanks for sharing.
Brian Mittelstaedt says
Thanks for sharing your images and your heart. Your inspiration from Santa Fe is still fresh with me and this posting has helped in a different way.
I lost my father over the holidays as well and its been a bit of a ride emotionally.
My sympathies and support on your loss. It’s clear why your images look like they do, you put so much of you into them. Thanks for that and giving us all a glimpse.
I hope our paths cross again.
Tommy Nikon says
A very touching tribute…to family and your journalistic skills….with the pen….AND the camera.
I’ve followed your work for decades and have always greatly admired it. However, what you wrote cemented that even moreso.
I wish you that peace that only comes with the passage of time.
Gary Martin says
Us paddy’s are tough Joe…I’m glad one of my favourite photographers is one! Great photo’s and great story…
Sorry for your loss..She had a good long life..The spirit lives on in you!
Take care mo chara
Joe, beautifully expressed…my thoughts go out to you and your family!
Thank you for sharing. It’s important to take the photos even if they are uncomfortable.
Sorry for your loss.
Glenda Cherry says
Joe, my condolences on losing your mom. But your description of her had me laughing out loud – I would never want to have been in her sights, but I wish I could have seen her in action. I guess the secret to her long life was prickliness … if that’s true, I’ll be around a long time! May God bless you …
Joe, so sorry for your loss. Your mother sounds like she was a force to be reckoned with. It is people like her who touch our lives and reshape them… my thoughts are with you and your family.
Great story, Joe. My condolences to you and your family.
Dennis Mc Donald says
Hey Joe…she lived a great life and leaves lots of good memories for you and your family…love and friendship…Dennis
I am so sorry for your loss. It’s such an awesome privilege we have as photographers to be able to capture moments such as these so that we will always be able to remember. Thanks for sharing.
May you never forget what is worth remembering, nor ever remember what is best forgotten.
Melissa Grooters says
Posted this on Facebook, but thought I’d do it here, as well. Thank you for sharing this.I leave tomorrow to visit with my grandmother with Alzheimer’s for the last time, I’m sure. All along I’ve been planning on bringing my camera despite what other family members might say. This just sealed the deal for me.
To the McNally clan : So very sorry for your loss!
While I am sure it was difficult, this is one of the most insightful, heartfelt and moving bio’s I have read.
Condolences, Comfort and Blessings to you all.
Don McPhee says
Great women are hard to come by….I know,..my mother is one also. I am sorry for your loss.
J.San JosÃ© says
My Condolences Joe.
I read your emotive post. You are a good son. Your Mom cares of you from heaven
Yours, Best wishes
Simon Fairclough says
Truly sorry for your loss, your mother sounds like a wonderful woman. It must have been difficult to have photographed but that was just the best thing to have done. Very moving images and text.
Ken St John says
Joe, I am so sorry for your loss. I, too, had a Mom who was “strong.” Although we never had the cops come by, there was certainly no doubt at all who wore the “pants” in our family. I lost her in 2008. I miss her “advice” quite often.
Brien Aho says
Sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing with us all a very personal story and showing the beautiful images. My mother also is a strong willed Irish presence and your story reminded me of her antics. Thanks and my condolences to you and the family.
This essay is beautiful and the photos of her are gorgeous. Such a lovely woman. Condolences and God bless.
Tim L says
The pictures you create with your prose rival those you create with your camera, Joe. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.
My condolences to your family Joe. Sorry for your loss.
Martin Leonhardt says
Wow – I am – I don’t know…
All the best
Carol Watkins says
Sorry for your loss Joe. Your photo of her taking your hand
will always be with me. My own Mom is 93. I treasure the time I have left with her. God Bless you.
Wayne Yuan says
Wow. Really powerful. Thanks for sharing this.
Ilias Sakalak says
I am so sorry for your mother’s death! Reading your story and watching at your photos i felt i really knew her!
God bless you!
Thank you for sharing your very interesting and honest story. My condolences to you and your family.
Martin Beddall says
A very moving post Joe. Makes me sad that at a final, similar connect with my grandmother, I did not bring my camera – too choked to say what I should have said. That last image resonates in my memory bank so much, but I failed to commit it as an image. Instead I brought her an image of her great grandchildren taked that morning so many miles away and watched her face light up.
Sorry for your loss and admire your courage to capture such moments.
Hi Joe. Such a touching piece written with such warmth for your formidable mom. Condolences for your loss. For me your words capture the very essence of the importance of photography. Inspiring. Thank you.
Bruno Costa says
my sincere condolences.
Tom Snide says
Well told as always Joe. Condolences and prayers.
Your tribute is touching in its honesty, making it all the more poignant and moving.
My deepest condolences for you and your family’s loss.
Thanks for sharing.
I’m sorry Joe for the loss of your Mother. I had to re-read it twice because I could swear you were writing about my Grandmother. I think they were long lost “Sisters”!! I wish I could have thought to take pictures of her of our last visit together…..
Barna Tanko says
Thank you for sharing this with us. Sorry for your loss.
Joe, I’m so sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is one of the hardest things we have to go through no matter how old we are. I’m glad you raised your camera. This is one of those times when a photograph is so much more than just a picture.
Sorry for you loss Joe. I bet you have a lot of beautiful pictures of your mother in your mind and in your heart, the best album in the universe. Take care.
Thanks for sharing your honest and touching memories of your mom. And wonderfully meaningful images. My thoughts go out to you and your family at her passing.
Mason Resnick says
Hi Joe, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your Mom. May you be comforted by your friends and family during this difficult time.
dustin weiss says
hi joe, (i’m a friend of drew’s from college and a follower of all of your wonderful advice on everything photo.).
i can relate to the “feeling a need to photograph someone”. my father had m.s. and has since passed away, but i can remember several distinct times where i ‘needed to document he and a few moments of his life. i’m glad for these feelings and for these images as they are a few that i hold most dear.
i too am grateful for your post and the memories it brought back!!!
i would send my condolences but i feel it best to celebrate the life that was lived and the memories that remain!
My condolences, Joe.
It’s amazing how you could still write amidst your grief. I’m praying that you find comfort in God whenever you miss your Mom.
Joe, I’ve long admired your skills with a camera, but your writing abilities are coming in a close second. I felt this one deep in my bones.
Vic Schmeltz says
My father-in-law passed away five weeks ago. It is difficult losing someone and I thank you for sharing the words and pictures. My condolences.
Pamela Viola says
What a lovely tribute. Much of it resonates with my own experience. Ma has been gone for several years now, but dad passed away just a couple of months ago. My thoughts are with you Joe.
L.S. Carper (Charleston) says
Great characterization of the old adage,” we can choose our friends but not our family”. I can relate closely as our moms would have been best of friends or worst of enemies. Your picture tells the story of her calmness in later years and I’m sure that’s as much a comfort to you as it will hopefully soon be to me. Somehow I believe St. Peter is getting his instructions right now. Remember the good times and hope to see you back in Charleston soon.
Bill A says
I am so sorry Joe. Thank you for sharing the wonderful pictures and some of your memories which are really the essence of our photographs. While very sad, you have brought on a smile for, she reminds me of my own mother who has been gone for several years.
My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family.
They say we choose the people we want to be related to because there is a purpose or lesson we need to learn in our own lives…I am sure you can think of many reasons you are glad you picked her,
Mark Griffith says
Powerful words and images Joe. My condolences on all the bitter and the sweet memories. My own Grandfather passed away a few years ago, I wrote this : http://www.niffgurd.com/mark/blog/2007/06/grandpa-ray-lindquist-this-weekend-we.html
Dawn Norris says
I’m really sorry Joe – you have beauty and sadness in those images you created and placed in this post. I was just in a meeting the other day and a very savvy lady said to me about parenting, “it’s about loss…” Perhaps in your circumstances, as in all of ours, being the child is about loss too like yours and other’s who have lost their parents to illness, death, memory. Thank God for photos like yours – and your words… They inspire and keep those alive who are now gone.
Blessings to you. -Dawn
Chris Wightman says
Joe I think she knew too. Her hand shows it.
Sorry and hope you and your family are good.
Keep following light!
Susan Ashe says
You made beautiful pictures of her. Your Ma sounds like such a character. You could have been describing my husband’s grandmother… we used to call her “the war department”. We miss her. Most of the time 🙂 My sincere condolences to you and your family.
My thoughts are with you and your family.
Thank you for sharing, take care, Colin
Ivan Makarov says
Very sorry to hear. But thank you so much for sharing. Powerful words.
All the best.
Thanks for sharing, once again. Those images are an essay of feelings on their own.
Eric Muetterties says
It can be tough when your parent was tough with you and others. I lived somethinfg like that with my Dad, who was a quiet sort. He affects my life and my 5 sibling’s lives to this day and he died in 1984. He left a legacy as a chemist, but failed in many ways as a father. Still he is held in high esteem buy many in our family anod without.
Preben Richter says
You are as always very honest in your way of communicating.
Sorry for your loss.
Aaron Z says
I am sorry for your loss, but the memoriesthrough your text and images live on.
Thank you for sharing.
Jeri Mearns says
A wonderful tribute to your Mom. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us.
Anthony R says
Joe what a powerful testimony to your mom…how many times do we say we should have brought the camera and then later regret not having done so…you will always have the memories of those last pictures to complete your entires memories of her…your hand holding hers wow!!!…we all look up to you… it was so nice to have you reach down to us and share….I am more blessed by your touching story and having had the honor of meeting you on a couple of occassions the last one being the Maine DLWS in October….may you and your family’s heart be comforted at the loss of mom…thank you….Anthony
Eivind Rohne says
Really sorry for your loss Joe, but I’m glad you shared this with us! I’m speachless…
Teymur Madjderey (icedsoul photography) says
my condolences joe. I am very sorry for your loss!
My deepest condolences to you and your family.Thanks for sharing these stunning memories.Reminds me to take more family portraits of my parents to keep as treasured memories when they pass on.Thanks Joe
Bryan L says
Wow – what a story. I am truly sorry about the loss of your mother but you will be forever thankful that you made those final photos. My grandmother was sick with cancer and one evening while visiting my parents, I saw her with my kids and I thought – I should make a picture. But the camera was out in the car, it had been a long day, and I just really didn’t want to fool with it. My grandmother lost her mental faculties shortly after that and was never the same. Now that photo of my grandmother with my daughters exists only in my mind.
Joe, first time I ever write here. Thank you for sharing this. Very powerful. This just made me re-think my visit frequency on my own mom. My sincere condolences from Panama City, Panama.
Ian Scotland says
I’m really sorry for your loss. God bless you and your family.
I will say it in french : Toutes mes sincÃ¨res condolÃ©ances Joe.. Bon courage.
Ken Toney says
Condolences to you and your family. This is a reminder to me to take time out of the busy schedule to be with my mom while she is still with us. Thank you my friend.
Paul Murray says
Joe, I am sorry for your loss. I’m glad that you had an opportunity to see her and photograph her. Your description of your Mom sounds similar to mine who died a few years ago. I guess there is something in those Irish Catholic roots that creates a level of feistiness that be come their secret weapon. I hope that you, your family and friends will have the opportunity to share some tales…probably a few your Mom would have never allowed told. Take time to appreciate the collective memories.
My heartfelt condolences Joe. Those pictures tell a story which touches the heart. May time heal the sorrow.
Glyn Dewis says
Very powerful post Joe; so sorry to hear of your loss.
Beautiful words accompanied by beautiful, moving photographs; a wonderful tribute indeed.
Geezz… I’m speechless after read it and saw those photos and I’ve started to miss my late father.
My deepest condolences to you and your family.
Carlos Ocegueda says
I am sorry for your loss. I am glad you got the opportunity to hear your inner self and follow thru with your feelings. A lot of time one just puts those feeling aside due to activities we get caught up with in normal day to day, but I have found out that one must keep one to what the heart can tell you to be aware of.
I am sure that the time and the images you took will be with you for a long time. Treasure them. My condolences
Joe, I was very moved by your story. The images of your mother are very beautiful. I can instantly see the resemblance. Thank you so much for sharing. I don’t think I will ever forget it.
Josh Schrems says
Very sorry for your loss Joe. These are very powerful photos.
All the best,
Thanks for sharing such an intimate post, sorry for your loss.
Im a recent convert to your ways, books and hopefully one day your workshop…..Thank you for a glimpse of light into your personal life and musings about life and your mother.
I often wonder why folks blog personally difficult details of their lives but find myself thankful for the experience that may just make a small endearing change in my or someone else’s life.
Thank you for sharing this gem of your life to be treasured by you, and now many others,
Like the rest, I’m sorry to hear about how the story ends. I guess I can’t really add much to what’s already been said in that department.
However I will add that you make a truly excellent point. Your post reminds me of another I once read on photographing a funeral.
Most photogs tend to shy away from doing pictures like yours, because as you say, it’s awkward or sad. But in the end it’s those pictures that really hit home, and it’s those pictures you truly come to cherish over time.
This is one of those posts everyone with a camera should have a look at.
David Apeji says
My condolences. Sorry for your loss.
A very honest, powerful and honest post… words and images alike. Maybe your most fundamental, and therefor best ever. Thank you for sharing this with us. I’m sorry for your loss, and richer for your having shared this with us.
Garry and the gang at Contre Jour Studios says
Thank you Joe, thank you for sharing this very personal tribute,,,very eloquent and moving. Your photos and words touched each of here very deeply. Our sympathies.
Barbara Molyneaux says
So sorry to read about your mom. I remember her as a lovely woman with a beautiful smile. You, Rosemary and Kathy were very fortunate to have her for almost 97 years. May your beautiful pictures and memories keep her in your heart.
Sorry for the loss, Joe. You have a unique ability to get your thoughts out to the rest of us. Reading your post has helped me to understand some of the feelings I had when my mom passed on, and that was ten years ago. Thanks so much.
Rick S says
Joe ……. your description painted a picture of my own mother, made of nails but with a heart of gold at the core!
I think I will pay her a visit while I still can. Like you I have had spells of silence to subside the ringing in my ears. Who cares, you only get so many chances to say hello!
Thanks for your honesty! I wish you well and know from the recent passing of my own father that time heals sharp wounds. As time passes the grief slowly transforms into the warm glow of the rememberances of better days.
I am sorry for your loss. I lost my Mom 157 days ago. She was 62. My thoughts are with you.
Iden Ford says
Touching and heartbreaking. Mortality is unquestionably one of the most difficult things we face when it comes to the people we love. God bless your Mom and you.
Thanks for sharing Joe.
My condolences also.
I relate to the loss and situation, my grandmother was also a firecracker.
I believe the photos are treasures.
John Johnson says
I’m so sorry for your loss. Codolences to you and your family.
Jim White says
May God bless and be with you during this time Joe . . Sorry to hear about the loss of your Mom
Touching tribute to the individuality that is your mother.
Life is darned short; live with kindness toward all…
I’ve got that picture of my dad, btw.
John S. says
Joe, there are times when words are not enough. “I’m sorry for your loss” at a time like this proves this.
Your sharing this very personal story, with strong images and powerful text, enough to bring a lump to my throat, proves what an accomplished communicator you are.
Gary Scaife says
Sorry for your loss Joe. Reading this posting sent shivers down my spine.
Daniel Solorio says
My condolences to you, from the deep of my heart I wish you well. Thanks for open your heart, and let us know more of the big person you are.
Rosanne Aresty says
These photos are beautiful and it inspires me to keep going on. I suspect your mother was, as they say, “A tough Irish broad.” So is mine. What will we do without them? She will always be with you and the tenderness in these photos speak for themselves.
Derrick Nguyen says
My condolences and prayers to you and your family Joe. I am reading your blog and looking at the pictures you took of your mom while I am taking care of my own father here in the hospital. It’s such a wonderful thing what you’ve captured. I will follow your footsteps and take a picture with my dad here at the hospital before it might become too late.
Thanks for sharing Joe, I envy you. You were lucky to share such a wonderful moment we are all not as fortunate. I wished I would have had that feeling to have captured such finality and closure with my Mom. I lost her when she was only 57. My condolences for your loss.
Joe I’m so sorry for your loss. Your words and pictures made me even tearing up. That has never ever happened due to a blog post and very seldom in general. I don’t know why but I guess it’s because I spent too less time with my mom. Need to change that.
Condolences to you and your family.
Ingo (and Carmen)
Daryl Chan says
Sorry to hear about your mom. Moms are always special no matter how fiesty they are. Glad you took the moment to record those visuals.
So sorry for your loss, thank you for sharing your beautiful story with us.
I did not have a feeling and I wish I did.
A wonderful 16 year old boy who called me ‘Mommy’ invited us to his soccer game a few weeks ago and I picked up the 400mm lens that I had not used for a few years.
I was so proud of him and I shot many images, smiling when I realized that I was shooting every expression and motion as I got back into the fun and excitement of shooting sports.
I felt guilty for shooting only our boy so when he took a break, I photographed other players, but the excitement was missing; I thought ‘what a proud mama I have become’. I expected to shoot many more games, but two days later, he was gone in a heartbeat.
I have photographed and cried with parents at many NILMDTS sessions, and I thought I really understood the importance of photographs, now I truly do.
I am so pleased that you got a picture of your mom holding your hand, it is a very moving image.
Nate Kinnison says
That’s sad Joe, and I’m sure the people who knew her were better for it. My condolences to you and your family
I know that feeling of “I really need to make a picture…right now” very well, and I’ve kicked myself every time I’ve ignored the feeling. I still have three of my grandparents, and all of them are 90 give/take a few years older or younger. I won’t forget one of the last times I saw my Nana with my kids. I shot photos like a motherfucker that day, and it was awkward, but I can’t tell you how much those photos mean to me…of my three year old son resting on her chest in a hug.
Yian Ling says
I stumbled upon your site and I am so touched by your story. And impressed by your writing skills! I love the way you write.
Any novels coming your way?
Chris Wheeler says
Dear Mr. McNally,
Thank you for sharing such an intimate time in your life and such a powerful story. It instantly inspired me and I realize that my lens has only been pointed towards my kids and never really towards my parents. It also led me to reminisce of that feeling to take a picture.
Thank you for your inspiring words, letting us into your life and for all that your posts and books have taught me. My condolences to you, and your family. After losing my mother in 2008, I never really considered picking up a camera during her illness, but now i realized i should have. You truely are a role model and inspiration to all aspiring photographers and seasoned vets alike. Thank you again for sharing your story.
My sincerest of condolences on your loss. May she remain close in your memories.
Alex Kaiser says
Just read about the loss of your mom.
Thank you for sharing this story and pictures with us.
My condolences, to you and your family,
Elis Alves says
I just saw your blogpost about your mom and I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for such beautiful pictures and honest words. May God comfort you in your loss in the days ahead as the truth of her passing sinks in.
I’m so sorry for your loss. I know what it feels like to loose a parent. I loss my father 2 years ago, after a battle with heart failure. It was Christmas time and after his death the christmas haven’t been the same. Life goes on and we have to re-evaluate our purpose in life and go along with it. Thanks for sharing such a private story and awesome images.
Thanks for sharing the stories of your mom. Thoughts and prayers are with you.
Alex Racanelli says
I am so very sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. The story you told was touching and revealing and I thank you for sharing. Your way with words are as deep as your images. Joe, you inspire me to be a better photographer and more importantly, a better person. I’ve seen you twice in person in a workshop setting and loved it!
Dave D. says
So sorry for your loss, Joe. Your very heartfelt blog was well written and touching. May those memories of your mom give you comfort. DTD
Martyn Dews says
Sorry to hear of your loss. A very powerful and touching story. Your mother sounded like quite a woman. The 3 pictures in the blog say so much more than the words on their own.
Thanks for sharing.
Oh, My~ I know this woman! And you served her well with the words you wisely chose out of pure compassion and understanding of who she was/is for all to see. Your photos complement the very stage of life you see every day in our elderly folk and family if we stay long enough to see them.
Thank you Joe for sharing the complexity of family and love. They both grow on you when you share the truth of what that really is.
Blessings to you and your family. May your Mom live forever in your hearts and many memories of life with Mom.
James Allison says
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Thank you for sharing this story as it resonates well with me at this time since my parents have had some health issues.
sad for your loss but her beautiful memory will live on forever in your heart and in your images…
Ann Lewis says
A very moving story, I am so sorry for your loss. Your Mum looks a lovely lady, I’m sure she was very proud of you.
I too have that feeling with my Mum. She’s still with us but doesn’t appear to know me anymore. She has Alzheimer’s.
Your story says to me “I must take a photo before it’s too late”.
I wish and pray for all the best for you and your family. And thank you for a reminder of how inimitably powerful a photograph can really be.
Brandon Burnett says
Sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. I’m glad I was never her neighbor ;-), but I’m very glad the world had her because she raised a great son. Once again, I’m inspired by your words and photography. Thanks for sharing, and my thoughts and prayers to you and your family.
Martin Tolley says
You only get one mum. I never managed to make pictures of mine in her last days. I so wish I did. Your post made me cry today.
Jack Flemmings says
Peace be with you and your family. You touched a lot of hearts. My own mother was a redhead Irish woman who spoke her mind and had her own ways about her. I haven’t seen her since 1968. It bought back memories. This post was what art is truly about; to touch someone. God bless……..-jack
Eric Politzer says
Joe, I missed this posting when it came out. I am very sorry for your loss. I loved reading your tribute — she sounds like an amazing person, a wonderful character. Your thoughts resonated with me about my own mom, who died 3 years ago. I am so happy you were able to spend time with her at Christmas — that is priceless.
Skip Barber says
My sincere condolences for your loss. I lost both parents a few months apart and its not easy. But, you have the memories, and some great photos.
Gianni Bianchini says
Really sorry to hear this Joe,
A big hug to you.
G Taylor says
Powerful. Brought a tear to my eye. I teach a photography class for adults and told them about the blog last night. I hope they all got a chance to read it.
Aston Sharman says
Sorry to hear about your Mum, I think by the responses here you know that our hearts are with you. Best wishes from Aston.
Alan West says
Thoughts and prayers are with you Joe.
Joe Quinn says
I am sorry to hear of your mom’s passing, as an Irishman
i think your mom was very typical of most Irish mothers, god bless you if you cross one of their children.
Your post is a timely reminder to us all to take those important images now.
God bless you and your family at this time.
bernard gastrich says
Iwas Ann cahill’s eye doctor all through her childhood and teen years.
Your blogs,especially the one about your mother made me feel that the attached from Geogia O’Keefe would be very meaningful to you.
Hope to learn from you personally at some point.
Could not attach! Please ask Ann to contact me.
I lost my Dad 14 years ago, and it’s not a day that goes by that I’ll need help with something and I’ll think Dad will know, but then I get sad as I can’t call. When we were little Mom used to tell us now if I get like my Mom you let me know. We did once and she got mad at us. As the years go by I see more and more Grandmother in her.
Dick Wood says
Beautiful words and pictures. I have a lump in my throat. I am sorry for your loss.
Aaron Wulf says
What a moving post. Thank you for having the courage to share it with us.
My thoughts are with you and your family.
Paul Rowland says
What a wonderful post. Sorry for your loss. Your blog and work is amazing and you are an inspiration for so many people. Thank you for sharing your life and work with us.
I am sorry for your loss. My mom passed away on Jan 14. I made some pictures of her a few weeks ago. It was somewhat difficult to do but I am glad I did. I will always take pictures of feelings from this point on.
My thoughts go out to you and yours,
Juan Jose Marquez says
Very sorry for your loss Joe, It is very moving to read this post from you, my mom is 72 years old thank God for letting us enjoy our moms for so long.
Paul Van says
Thank you for the moving post – my mom died young (53) and I don’t feel I have enough pictures of her.
Your post also shows us that the best pictures we take, are the ones we take now – of the people who mean the most to us. When those moments are gone, they’re gone forever.
Heidi Anne Morris says
Joe, you are a good man and a kind soul. I’m really sorry for your loss & heartache.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings.
All my best to you, Heidi
Read your post with tears in my eyes joe. I guess even if you can photograph the most beautifull women of the world, in the end these personal pictures are the ones which matter the most. Yesterday we had dinner at a restaurant with my parents who are now both 75+ years. So I took your advice and shot some nice pictures of them. Thanks for being an inspiration for me and my thoughts are with you and your family
I am sorry to hear about your loss. I am really glad you got those wonderful images to help remember her with. She sure sounds feisty!
Frank doorhof says
We wish you all the best Joe.
I recognize something from your story with my grandmother, I shot images of her during mothers day while she was doing very well from a broken hip.
A few days later she was gone……
We are all so very glad with those final images, it goes without saying that as photographers we do sometimes have the burden of taking that difficult shot, but often we also have the joy af being able to take the most important shot for or of someone, especially being yourself.
So sorry to hear of the loss of your mom. There was obviously a voice telling you to take that last picture of her. We never know when it’ll be the last time we see someone. She sounds very similiar to my mom, extremely strong willed, her way or no way (in hell!). My mom has dementia now and has none of that spirit left in her. I actually miss her spunk, even though she could say hurtful things.
I went through cancer last year and was ready to kick the year to the curb on new year’s eve, but I got a phone call that day that my dad (who also has dementia) suffered a massive heart attack. We thought he was dead and it was only through confused phone calls that they continued with CPR and got a heart beat back after 40 minutes, otherwise he’d be dead now. It was a late x-mas miracle. It gave us another chance to spend time with him and we feel very blessed. His dementia is worse due to brain damage but he’s very cheery these days and I’ve been sure to take pictures of him.
99 and the same hands. That’s my grandmother. From ireland and co-leader of a family of 5. Tough and always cracking a joke. Or sort of a joke. Something that makes you feel guilty and defensive anyway.
I saw her today and I fear that her time is coming soon. She prays to be gone but despite her prayers she is still mobile. She only quit driving 5 years ago.
She’s slowed down 50% in the last 3 months. A long hospital stay. Those hands. It makes me cry to think about them.
I am sorry for your loss. David Burnett said something wonderful in the world press photo masterclass a few years back that stuck with me. Something to the effect that he regrets not turning around. Not taking the pictures that really matter. Family.
Hank Conrad says
What beautiful images and a moving post. I am sorry for your loss.
She must have been proud to have a son who has inspired so many.
My last picture of my mother was earlier this year on here 90th birthday; actually got a smile.
It was the best day she has had since then. I hope when the day comes, I can write about her half as well as you have about your mom.
Our thoughts are with you. All the best.
so i’m crying and wanting to just tell you that i’m sorry, but so glad you got to hold her hand and make a couple of pictures. big hug to you, joe.
Really enjoyed this. My mother is 92 and in ill health. I know that I need to go see her and take a picture of her with her Player Piano. Years of memories, Mom, family and piano. Thanks. sorry for you loss. All the best.
Thank you for penning, photographing and perpetuating your story and your mothers prescence on our planet. Take care.
Rick Potts says
Saints of God come to her aid.
Hasten to meet her, angels of the Lord.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon her.
tomasz brymora says
… making people weep and laugh is something you’d do! I’ve been processing your post for a few days and I’m not sure what’s more stunning? The post like a double cyclone of words and photos reformulating a lot of ideas about life or your ability and willingness to share so much under such circumstances.
I’m so sorry for your loss. … and thank you.
… but I have to say, your mom would probably enjoy some SB-900’s rigged up on her porch to randomly fire at the neighbors 🙂
udi tirosh says
I am sorry for your loss.
Those are great pictures.
parents/children relationship are never as simple as what they show in sitcoms. thanks for sharing the good and the bad, giving a strong picture of her (no pan intended).
my thoughts are with you.
Condolence Joe! So sad to hear the news. May she rest in peace.
Alexis in HK says
What a lovely, touching tribute. I am sorry for your loss — but she does live on — in you.
Wong ( M'sia ) says
My condolences to you and your family .
Barbara Rice says
Thanks so much, Joe, for being so unashamedly open and honest about your struggles, fears, and loss. Every human being will encounter these times, and damn us whenever we don’t act on those gut feelings to somehow capture the moment…be it with a sincere “I love you” when it hasn’t been spoken in years, a photo, or even a warm hug. That could be the last, and it could also be a witness to others similarly in the moment.
Your mother sounds awesome…I will look for her when my day comes. Until then, for those of us still here on earth, stay strong, be vigilant, and love with all your might, through your lens and through your actions.
Deji Osinulu says
Thoughts & prayers with you and your family Joe. With wishes for smiles & joyful remembrances even in the middle of grief & loss.
Shannon Christopher says
Your act of sharing such a personal moment is beyond generous. You are a wonderful photographer of course Joe, but your gesture of sharing your experience, and ultimately who you are, is a wonderful lesson beyond the camera.
Brock Lawson says
Joe you are such an inspiration and great person.
This post was definitely a tear jerker.
It is posts like these that remind me why you truly are my number one role model and hero.
Thanks for everything you do,
Didier Kaade says
Condolences on your loss, the share will definitely add to the memory of her, and introduce her to a whole new generation of people who now know a glimpse of the woman she was, and will always be in your heart.
All the best to your family and my condolences again for the loss. You are in our prayers.
Thank you for sharing. It is hard to share those moments that are closest to our hearts. I recorded a converstion I had with my mother this last ThanksGiving, so I think I am going to add photos to that practice. Your story reminds me so much of my own. Even though a mother’s words can cut you like a steel cable, you still love them.
Agin thank you. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. I’m sure your own children will thank you for enriching their family history by your photos and words.
Dave Purcell says
Such a nice tribute. As has been expressed above, you’ve left a lump in my throat. I know this must be hard to share, but your experience relates to so many and communicates the feelings eloquently of all who have lost one close to us and gives us a catharsis.
Joe, lovely tribute. I’m sorry for your loss.
Richard Knight says
So very sorry on your loss, she will live on not just in your memories but for others in your photographs.
Charles Tibbs says
You have changed my photography for the better and have read all your books and laughed through and loved them all. If I did not know better I would say you were describing my Mother (her being of English decent was the giveaway) and you made me cry.
My mother passed away in 2006 way to early from Diabetes complications. Like your mother she was a hand grenade waiting to go off at a moments notice, I recall being around 11 years old in a parking lot and someone took her spot. All 5’3″ of her climbed out of our station wagon and a verbal assault an a huge man ensued, some of the words I had never heard before.
I am truly sorry for your loss and wish you and your family the very best. Only words of advice I can give is Grieve as much and as long as you need.
Thank you for everything you do and for sharing this with us all.
Joe, I am sorry for your loss. She must have been an exceptional woman having raised a son like you.
..after all… that’s the great time of your life. Your experience… and its now shared with us all.
She gave you that special way of feeling and seeing the world, the people, the feelings. Keep going this way…
Barry Rayburn says
Condolences, Joe. When you have a lull, look at Isaiah 57:1. It’s a verse I’ve turned to at times and found comfort in. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. As always, thank you for sharing with so many of us from your abundant talents.
Sam Allen says
Joe, my thoughts are with you man. Thank you for sharing that with us.
Don McKay says
Thank you for sharing. Our hearts are with you. We have been going through our old family photos seeing people who have passed and remembering them in many ways, we are scanning in a lot of them and putting stories with them so that our family’s will know what these loved ones meant to us. Everyone needs to pass on these memories. Don’t just store them in a box.
Iris Olafsdottir says
My condolences for you loss Joe.
dan brien says
Thanks to you, your mom will live on in all of us. Sorry for your loss and thanks for sharing.
Gregory Gardea says
Very moving. The photos really magnify the words right off the page. Thanks for sharing.
Hillary Shemin says
My sincere condolences to you Joe. You wrote a very touching tribute to your mother… so important that we treasure those every day moments.. so wonderful that as photographers we have the ability to capture them to share. I lost both of my parents while I was only in my 20’s..I treasure the few photos I have. I never really thought at that time to take those ‘last shots’ that a person with older parents would think of. I still miss them over 30 years later and treasure the missing and emotion I feel, knowing that I will never forget them no matter how many years pass. Thank you for this open and gentle post. Take care…
dear joe, lost my father in 2007 – i can image how you feel – a mother is a mother indeed..
be greatful for all the things your mother gave you and be a proud son
Hi Joe, may you keep the best memories of your mother in your heart and mind!
Mark R. says
Joe, thanks for sharing.
My condolences to you and the entire family.
I’m one of the hundreds of people you move and inspire constantly & Thank You for that.
Simple, heartfelt words. Heartbreaking and beautifu.
Sorry for your loss. May her soul rest in peace forever.
Corinne Noel says
She sounds like someone I would have loved too 🙂 She was spunky! She had lots of charachter 🙂 Those make for the best Moms…ask my kids 😉 So sorry for your loss, thank you for sharing your heart & letting us know what we are missing from our lives 🙂
Greg Casey says
I cried when I saw your post. So touching…..You have so much courage. I have lost both of my parents and I wish I had the same courage to do what you did.
Stay strong…..you are a great photographer but a better man.
Josef matos says
Sorry to hear about your loss.
Brian Loflin says
Your mother was a beautiful lady. Nice tribute and images.
I just lost my mother, too. She was 97 (and a half, she’d say) and spry, gregarious and healthy until the day she died. Fortunately, she went quickly.
Frequently still, I really hear her down the hall from my office at home calling my name.
So- we know they are only gone in body.
They’re still with us in spirit.
One day, you will hear yours busting your chops again.
Just chuckle and say,
Joe, I enjoy your blog a great deal. Through it I have a sense I know you â€” if only a little bit. I’m very sorry for your loss and the sadness that comes with it.
Piero Capannini says
My strongest condolecens.
You made me cry with that. Thanks for sharing your emotions with us.
Written from the heart.
Sandi Parrott says
Tears are falling as I read your blog. What a wonderful, curmudgety(?) woman she must have been. God Bless you and your family. The photos are really wonderful!
Wedding photographer Essex - Studio2 says
Joe sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing, my thoughts are with you
Joe Lynch says
My sincere condolences. I lost my mother a week before Christmas. I took a photo of her one week before she passed away, as she sat in her hospital room, but it’s too distressing to see how ill she looked. So I prefer to look at the photo I took one year ago on her 81st birthday when she looked so well. But seeing your photo of you holding your mother’s hand makes me wish I had taken one like that as I sat for several days holding her hand until she passed. But the best photo I have is a ‘snap’ taken of me dancing with my mother 23 years ago, at a wedding. I hardly looked at it through out these years, but now it is so precious. Thank goodness for photography.
Brian Morowczynski says
Gorgeous tribute Joe. All my condolences. I can’t tell if the final image or your final words were most poignant.
It’s true it is hard, very hard, to take photos sometimes, particularly of family. We lost my grandmother to several long years of Alzheimer’s. As much as I considered taking photos along her journey from life to death, the camera felt like it weight 1,000 pounds. It made me consider what it is that we photographers ask of our subjects when photographing their most tender moments. I began to wonder if I could request to take images of others that my own family would not have wanted taken of my ailing grandmother.
My best to you and your family.
Todd Ward says
Sorry to hear of your loss Joe. Thoughts and prayers for you and your family. A very nice tribute indeed…
Donna Caughlin says
The best writers are the ones who write truth. Since you’re an amazing photographer, I’m sure you seek truth in your work which is why I think this was beautifully written. A tribute to who your mother really was as a person and a mom. Sounds like she left a mark on the world and your heart.
My deepest sympathy for your loss. <3
Joe… sorry to hear this… apologize for late opening your blog…
Sincere condolences Joe.
So sorry to read about this Joe. My deepest sympathies.
jason harry says
all my love and wishes to you joe
your a decent guy family are so very special
i have a young daughter now four and she is the world to me
Patte Brownell says
Just had an opportunity to read your message. I met you in Santa Fe last March. My family tree is similar except my family is eastern European and still alive. A true challenge. Thank you for the insightful post -helps me with perspective with my parents. Patte
Erland Weemering says
I am very sorry to read about the loss of such a wonderful person. The pictures and write up you made are precious. Seeing what you did, has now given me the courage to take pictures of love ones in the later years of their lives. Thanks again.
John G says
I had several Irish great Aunts that would have gotten along great with your mother,,,,,,or fought like hell with her. I miss them like crazy and I wish I had taken more shots of them before they were gone. My mom is 81 and though doing pretty well she has “spells” and I’m not sure how long she’ll be around, though could be forever. So I’m going to be sure to start taking shots of her now, thanks to you.
I’m really sorry for your loss.
Patti Schmidt says
Very sorry for your loss Joe. Your story and photographs made me cry.
Ralf Obermann says
Hi Joe, just stop by an see your blog. We are really sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing, our thoughts are with you.
Kevan Goddard says
You are one of the few people who can make me laugh and cry at the same time.
Your photography is inspiring and your humanity even more so.
My sincerest condolences
what a feeling. I hate it when I laugh and cry at the same time!
Your mom sounds like she was a true character and I’m sure the world is a little more grey without her in it.
Such a lovely tribute to a strong feisty woman. I lost my Mom over 10 years ago now, she was a strong, feisty Italian Mother. I could not help by tear up when I read your blog…I still cherish the snap shots of my Mom from years ago and have scanned them into digital format to share with family and friends.
God Bless you and your family – until you meet your Ma again -rest in the comfort of your family and friends and your photo fans…..
Paul Alers says
A great tribute. My mom died suddenly early on Feb. 4 after suffering a fall. Damn streets of DC. Saw her for the last time the previous weekend–though I had my camera, I wish now I’d taken one last photo of her-though she hated me pointing it at her. She was known to many as “The Little General”. All moms hold special places. At least I know there is one more angel up there looking down on us.
Vadim Kim says
Hello,friends. I would like to ask you. What Camera Profile used Joe in Camera Raw/Lightroom?
Sharik Verma says
I am a fan of you since NatGeo… I am visiting your blog for the first time…but I am astonished…This post is just as amazing as your mom… No treasure is greater than our mothers…I must say!
denise karis says
Belated regrets for your mothers passing… I only started following you a few days ago and am catching up the last year – thank you for sharing and good thoughts to you and your family.
I was so confused about what to buy, but this makes it undertsadnbale.
Chris Jung says
Thanks for sharing.
and with those pics, Ma is now immortal. She already made the world a better place by having you bro. And you made this world better by having Maggie. And I am sure Maggie made you a better person too. As DH would say in his geeky way, positive feedback loop. Only this one, is a love loop.