Photographs and words by Phillip Toledano
EDITOR'S NOTE: I was drawn to Phillip's project on his father for its intimacy and humor. As devastating and sad Alzheimer's and dementia is for a family, it's hard to find the humor in it, but it is there—when answering the same question 100 times. Phillip captures that in such a loving and beautiful way. I don't think I could have told this kind of story about my mother, but I definitely could have about my own father. He too was devoted to his wife, ambitious and funny as hell. I am sure they are both up there taking care of their "brides."
My Mum died suddenly on September 4th, 2006
After she died, I realized how much she’d been shielding me from my father’s mental state. He didn’t have Alzheimer's, but he had no short-term memory, and was often lost.
I took him to the funeral, but when we got home, he’d keep asking me every 15 minutes where my mother was. I had to explain over and over again, that she had died.
This was shocking news to him.
Why had no one told him?
Why hadn’t I taken him to the funeral?
Why hadn’t he visited her in the hospital?
He had no memory of these events.
After a while, I realized I couldn’t keep telling him that his wife had died. He didn’t remember, and it was killing both of us, to constantly re-live her death.
I decided to tell him she’d gone to Paris, to take care of her brother, who was sick.
‘Days with My Father’ is a journal. A record of our relationship, and the time we spent over three years, 2006-2009. (link info below)
I asked my father to look in the mirror, while I took his photograph.
Now, you have to realize my dad was very handsome when he was young. When people talk about ‘Film star handsome,’ well, that was my dad. In fact, he WAS a film star (of sorts), in Hollywood, during the 1930’s.
So when he looks in the mirror, he sees a man ravaged, a man no longer beautiful, and that upsets him deeply.
You see, he’s still vain at 98. In fact, his vanity can be quite extraordinary.
I tried to take him to the doctor a few months ago, but on the way out, he caught a glimpse of himself in the hall mirror.
He was so horrified with his appearance, that he refused to leave the house until I found a ‘black pencil’ to dye his white hair with.
A Shadow Remains
This multimedia presentation was created by Phillip Toledano and MediaStorm. Watch the preview below and follow links to see the entire project and interviews.