Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Warren sent me a quote from the late Susan Sontag's On photography the other day; "Essentially the camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own." I think that Sontag's perception is spot on regarding photography and the same notion is doubly true with a blog.

When is it sharing and when is it an act of art or of genuine feeling, when is it truly necessary and when is it an act of pure voyeurism to give a blow by blow synopsis of one's life to the world, to interrupt life's flow in order to chronicle for a mixed group of friends, family and strangers? Is there a value in this somewhat ridiculous act of solipsistic narcissism?

I am so happy that I dialed this beast down this year and took the six months off, relieved myself from the duty to impart. Have substantially cut my output since then. But then again, like my mother before me, I am in Gladwell speak, a connector, with an innate compulsion to share and even teach at times. Nearing a million views, I have an actual relationship with many of the readers of this blog and I do get something back.

Still, how much is too much?

Sprung or Unsprung? © Robert Sommers 2014
I woke up from an eighteen hour day flying, waiting, delayed, on airport tarmacs and antiseptic gates, feeling completed unsprung. 

As I lay back in my own bed my brain was processing non sensical thoughts and errant non sequiturs, the inner gears freewheeling in space if not grinding against each other in an unmeshed cacophony.

I imagine like the morning hangover after a bad drug trip, I had to banish the chaotic thoughts and image stream and let them swim by on their strange asynchronous orbits. My line had spooled.

Fried and scrambled.

My life has been in a state of near total compression for months. Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Houston, Seattle, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Palm Springs, Del Mar, Seattle again, now Baltimore and back. Surgeries, exhaustion. You can pretend that you are immortal and sometimes you do what you have to do but there are times when reality strikes and something has to give. I may be close.

I got my second eye surgery yesterday and my blood pressure was so high, for the first time in my life, that we almost called it off. Got a few shots of something and finally brought the bottom number down far enough to proceed. Hope I can get a handle on it.


My mother has asked to be removed from dialysis and from all prophylactic medicine except for pain meds. No antibiotics. She has a high creatinine level and is in total kidney failure but looks remarkably good and is very cogent. I wonder how long she will carry on but she is tired of fighting and I support her decision to end her life. She has had a great life and is tired of being in a constant state of pain and agony.

The brother and sisters and niece that were physically able to make the trip met at her bedside at the hospice this week. We all cried and said our piece. 

She asked for a glass of wine and I bought a bottle of pinot and we toasted her life. I recounted how much I admired her and thanked her for feeding and nurturing me, for bringing me into this world. Told her how much I loved her, what a special person she is, a person who has always transformed everyone in her path. She was equally loving and grateful as she explained how proud she was of us and how much she loved each of us.

In respect of my family I am not going to go into detail about much of our private time but will recount one precious moment; my mother called my sister Barbara and I close to her and held out her hands so that she could squeeze both of our hands at the same time.

"Bobby, Barbara, come closer."

We obeyed her command and bent near to hear one of what might prove to be her last messages to us. 


We leaned very close now, hovering over her head.

"I want to thank all of my children..."

We strained to catch her voice.

"...for not becoming republicans."

My sister and I laughed hysterically, having expected something quite different but she was totally serious.

I have never lost a parent before and for all I know she will hold on for eternity but the prognosis is weeks. I will tell you that my fear is that the glue that held my family together will fade away like an old post it note and that this is like the end of the fellowship of the ring, that Liz, Johnnie, Buzz, Barbara and I will never share the same room together. I hope that is not so.

My sister is an amazing person, the person who took financial responsibility for my mother and gave so much. We had a wonderful and bittersweet time together. Drove to Annapolis one morning, the quaint town that is the seat of United States Naval power, the day of the army navy game no less. Had a great breakfast and  time together that I think neither of us will ever forget. I love my whole remarkable family so much. We need to find brother Buzz a kidney.


Sanoguy said...

Great post, BH!!! Thanks for sharing!! Many of us have gone through what you now are and have felt many of those same things. You have expressed many of the feelings that I have had on the passing of my own parents and you have expressed those feelings much better than I could ever had.

My best to you and Leslie on this Holiday Season!!!

Anonymous said...

Robert, you're truly gifted with the ability to articulate things that as humans we all experience in this life. I frequently see myself in your writings, good and bad. Thank you for your vulnerability.

Your Mother's face really does look lovely and at peace. I was wondering about the wine glass...and her comment about not becoming republicans, so priceless.

I hope your recovery goes quickly from the surgery. Wishing you and your entire family all the best during this difficult time. And a very sincere prayer for your dear Mom.


Anonymous said...

robert- thanks for sharing your life on the blog-i can't believe your recent itinery to generate $ on top of your own health issues , and then your mom-wow!
i hope you feel complete with her-ironically i am an only child with absolutely no relatives that i know of -but i was able to say goodbye to my mom feeling no regrets......sounds like you
did all the right things .
hope you heal well , and continue to find the creative juice in your photography and writing..
i'm working in the recording studio and trying to get a gig at the cool little theater george r.r. martin bought here. no more bar gigs!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS !!!!!????............J

Unknown said...

I am glad you shared this.....so real, so tender.

North County Film Club said...

I love your mom's sense of humor and the fact that she was serious made it even better!
Happy Holidays to you and Leslie- or at least as happy as it can be during this hard time.