Documenting My Mother’s Last Days

As her mobility declines Mum stays in her room more and more. Her windowsill becomes a substitute for the garden.

 

Documentary Photographer Celine Marchbank is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography.  From her  book ‘Tulip‘.  To see Celine’s projects click on any image.

 

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Post chemo

Post chemo

 

Tulip, my mother’s favorite flower.

In September 2009 my mother, Sue Miles, was diagnosed with lung cancer and a brain tumor. While I was trying to come to terms with the fact she was dying, I decided I wanted, or maybe needed, to document the time she had left. I didn’t want to create a graphic portrayal of her death, it would have been impossible and wrong to focus only on the dying part, but rather I wanted to photograph our last months together. I looked at the things that made her uniquely her, the details in her house I thought I knew so well, the things that would also be gone when she was. Her love of flowers was a beautiful part of her personality; the house was always full of them, and as I photographed them I realized they were symbolic of what was happening – they represented happiness, love, kindness and generosity, but also isolation, decay, and finally death.

 

Mum never really asks for help, in fact she refuses it. She was determined to try and do as much for herself as possible, and never lets on how hard it is for her.

Mum never really asks for help, in fact she refuses it. She was determined to try
and do as much for herself as possible, and never lets on how hard it is for her.

 

My Mum is not a patient woman, her answer to the mass of medication she is prescribed is to take them all at once - not quite what the doctor intended. I took charge of the drugs.

My Mum is not a patient woman, her answer to the mass of medication she is prescribed is to take them all at once – not quite what the doctor intended. I took charge of the drugs.

 

My Mum has the most amazing blue eyes.

My Mum has the most
amazing blue eyes.

 

Mum loves stripes, they are all over the house. Even the bloody cat is stripy!

Mum loves stripes, they are all over the house. Even the bloody cat is stripy!

 

30th September. One year since Mum was diagnosed. Her condition has deteriorated and she’s been admitted to the Marie Curie hospice for two week’s respite care. I worry looking at her empty bed, will she ever come home?

30th September. One year since Mum was diagnosed. Her condition has deteriorated and she’s been admitted to the Marie Curie hospice for two week’s respite care. I worry looking at her empty bed, will she ever come home?

 

Late night hospital visits.

Late night hospital visits.

 

Mum slept a lot today. It was nice to be in the room with her, seeing her so relaxed. It’s so difficult leaving her there, though I think the hospice is the best place for her right now...until she is stronger

Mum slept a lot today. It was nice to be in the room with her, seeing her so relaxed. It’s so difficult leaving her there, though I think the hospice is the best place for her right now…until she is stronger

 

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Breakfast with Mum.

Breakfast with Mum.

 

See also:

Tulip

Book By Celine Marchbank

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