Confined To His Home Under The Chilean Sky | The Late Stage Of Hugo’s Life & His Story

Although sometimes he doesn’t remember his wife’s name, he knows that he loves her.

Portrait and Documentary Photographer Constanza Hevia H is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this poetic documentary.  From her project ‘The Time I have Left’.  To see Constanza’s body of work click on any photograph.

 

Wilma and Hugo. Loss of memory effects how they talk, but after 60 years of marriage, they are happy to communicate like this.

 

On the cold winter days, Hugo loves to spend time sitting near the wood stove.

 

Hugo watches the passing of time in the outside world. The window offers Hugo the connection from his inner perspective to the external world.

 

The witches have said I will live a long time. I have till the year 2013 or 2014. I will live 107, 108, 109, 110 years. I still have a lot to do, a lot ahead… I am a little tired sometimes.

Hugo Küschel, August 8th, 2017. Las Cascadas, Chile.

 

Hugo says the Chilean animals were exported to Germany. I wonder if Hugo’s mind is like his other house: full of debris and scattered memories.

 

From his farm in southern Chile, Hugo says the Osorno Volcano is majestic, imposing, and the most beautiful in the world. While this view has been with him every day, he often confuses it with other volcanoes.

 

Connecting to the outside world. Due to the physical issues around growing old for Hugo, it was not possible for him to go out of his house in his last years.

 

 

The Time I Have Left is a poetic documentary project about addressing end-of-life issues. I followed the charming Hugo Küschel; the oldest man in my grandparents’ village of Las Cascadas, Chile. The project portrays the last year of Hugo’s life, the relationship with his wife, Wilma, and his battle against aging and memory loss. 

 

Evoking the complex workings of Hugo’s personal memory, the collage interlaces his past with his present. The Time I Have Left is a commemoration of Hugo’s life and memories, and my reconnection with my own childhood memories and sense of place.

 

During a childhood fishing trip with his father, Hugo was inspired watching fish going up steam. At that moment he knew he was destined to be close to the ocean. He joined the Chilean Navy right after high school.

 

I ask what he finds meaningful, but he never replies with a direct answer. He goes from one point to another. His mind is like a collage.

 

Hugo was often confused by the most familiar of things. He had clear memories of his teenage years in the Navy, but sometimes forgot the name of his wife, Wilma. It was comforting to watch Hugo laugh off these mistakes. The Time I Have Left explores the point of view of a person who only had contact with the outside world peering out the windows, watching television and looking at old photographs. This project documents how Hugo created his own world in order to keep his precious remembrances alive.

 

Hugo and Wilma once slept on sheep’s wool, but now Wilma spends most of her time in a special bed for diabetes. When it’s cold, Hugo will join her as early as 3:30pm

 

The same meal every day: sandwich with cheese. He loves to talk, but is quiet when eating.

 

Wilma: I am cold like a frog.
Wilma, a few minutes later: Are the frogs cold?
Hugo: Yes, they are very cold.
Wilma, a few minutes later: Are the frogs cold?
Hugo: Yes, they are very cold.

 

I was once afraid of growing old. Through the process of working on this project, I have gained an understanding of Hugo’s perspective on the life-death relationship, and now, I understand this late stage in life as a beautiful, but raw part of the human experience. 

 

For almost 3 years Hugo proudly served on the Almirante Latorre. He wanted to stay on this ship, but had to leave to take care of his family’s farm.

 

A Chilean landscape Hugo never visited. I think he hangs it to see the ocean and feel the warm weather. He never turns that page.

 

Documentaries, non-fiction, and news. No game shows. No movies. I wonder how much of this influenced his memories.

 

The Time I Have Left explores memory and time, and how these two concepts interact as they relate to mortality. At the same time, this project has become a means for me to return to my roots, and reconnect with the land where many of my early memories originated.

 

Hugo, the oldest man in the town of Las Cascadas, spends time sitting in his couch watching how the wind moves the trees on his farm on a cold winter day on July 25th, 2016.

 

Hugo passed away on September 7, 2017, at the age of 96. This is his story.

 

See also:

Living With Dementia

By Constanza Hevia H

 

 

 

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