My Mother's Hands
Update on my mother and "My Mother's Hands": The year after I did this photo shoot, we sold our home. We purchased a new one with a bottom's floor master-ensuite and Mom came to live with us in Sacramento. Her Parkinson's Disease had progressed so that it no longer made sense for her to continue to live in her three-story townhome in the Los Angeles Area.
We had a little over three wonderful years with her in our home. I learned how to cook a few of our family favorites, like Nanaimo Bars, and we had a ball taking her on various road trips. She loved Yosemite! Meanwhile, her pool of Kaiser doctors continued to grow as her disease impacted all her major body systems. She transitioned to a walker, and for the first time, showed some signs of Parkinson's-related dementia and Alzheimer's.
After a number of worsening and worrisome falls, she required more care than we could manage. We moved her into the wonderful Carlton Senior Living Center in Elk Grove, just 20 minutes away from us. After ten months with really excellent, skilled care, she passed away because of complications related to her Parkinson's Disease. She died at the age of 82, after living with PD for about 10 years. There is not a day I don't think of her, and miss her more than I thought could be possible. I wouldn't wish the disease on anyone, but it definitely brought us closer together. At the end of her life, she usually was not sure if I was her mother or her daughter. I did play both roles, as so many of us do with elder-care and I wouldn't trade that precious time for anything. Be in peace, dear momma.
* * *
My mother, Cynthia, has been a very active woman throughout her 76 years. She cooked wonderful meals for us and for local philanthropic organizations, sewed oodles of clothes for both of us (including my prom dress), kept a beautiful home, and so much more.
When she began to notice tremors in her hands when she was writing a couple of years ago, she suspected the onset of Parkinson's Disease. Since then she has gone through a range of testing as her tremors have worsened and other classic signs of Parkinson's have appeared. Recently, her neurologist formally diagnosed her with Early Stage Parkinson's Disease, a degenerative disease of the central nervous system. Fortunately, it appears to be progressing slowly, and she is taking medication that is helping her continue with her daily activities.
Meanwhile, I have begun reflecting on my mother's hands - the ones that shake now at times - the wonderful gifts and love that they have given my family over the years, and they many ways that they have expressed the essential "Cynthia Colby Allan." To that end, I thought I would try an indoor "studio" style shoot - something I've never done before. I wanted to try and focus on mum's hands (which are so often the first part of the body that indicates the onset of the disease, as I understand it) with some key props to help reveal parts of her personality and life to the viewer. My mother came to visit us last week in Sacramento and we spent a few days getting set up and trying out shots. I'd definitely like to expand my arsenal of indoor photo equipment, but I think "we done good," as she might say. See for yourself - "My Mother's Hands."
For more information about Parkinson's Disease, please see their information website.
For more information about Chris Allan, please see my bio page.