Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Memory Room


It was back in August of 2009 when I first met Mary Hill and later, her mother Margaret Hill. Mary moved from California to take care of her mom here in Orlando. For five years she was responsible for her mother's care. Margret's pulmonary fibrosis and other conditions grew worse until she couldn't get out of bed. It was around this time that I did several sketches of Margaret and interviewed her about her life. She died on December 28th of 2011.

It was a bit strange returning to Margaret's old bedroom. The room seemed immense and empty. An old Teddy Bear sat on top of some shelves. This was won at a state fair by Duane Hill, her future husband, and it was the first present he ever gave her. In a box tied with twine and labeled "Junk", were all the letters Duane and Margaret wrote each other when they were dating. A photo of Mary's parents was on the wall behind her along with paintings of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. This was always a religious family. Mary's aunt was a nun.

Mary was busy trying to sort all the family photos into cardboard bins. She was trying to decide which relatives should get which photos. It seems that Margaret took more photos of grandchildren than she did of her own children. Each of Mary's brothers had a shelf where their stiff collared High School photos were stored. So much of the family's true story remained hidden from the staged and posed family photos. Yet each snapshot could bring back a flood of memories, clear reminders of what truly happened.




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