We walked in a snowstorm. When was that? Before or after the hospital? It must have been before. I wanted you to see the beauty of it. How clean it all becomes. How muffled the sound. The flakes clung to your brows and careened off your glasses. Through a smile thin and uneven, you whispered that it was beautiful. As you were unsteady, Mom and I walked on either side of you, holding your arms. I think I knew it was your last snowfall.

***

My dad, David Orr, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at age 61. I was 21. As I began my adult life, his was ending. After a week of being unable to eat or drink, my dad died surrounded by his family in the early hours of May 1st, 2017. He was 67.


Here is a Poem is a book project that investigates my dad’s journey intertwined with my own. Alzheimer’s Disease is anything but linear. In its mist, memory can become a light dusting or a thick sludge, a blend of past, present, and future. My own memories from this time and my childhood are also far from linear, often disjointed and just out of my grasp.


This book will be divided into two parts. The first will look at the 80 rolls of film I photographed which hold images of my dad, taken roughly over eight years from when I was in high school through his diagnosis and until he passed away. This section will combine images of my dad with those of my own daily life found on these same rolls in order to share a more immersive narrative of the disease.


The second part will investigate who my dad was. I never got to know him as an adult without the filter of the disease. My attempts to do so became increasingly difficult. Conversations could only go so far or so deep, and much was left to interpretation. Here is a Poem serves as an attempt to find out how his mind worked and to hear his voice. Included in this section will be still lives of keepsakes he left behind, alongside color photographs that he took: moments with my mom, scenes at his job, sights from his travels and snippets from my own childhood. Even though he is not here anymore, my aim is for my dad to be a collaborator on the book. 


Crowdfunding campaign slated to begin Spring 2020.


Version of this work can be found on The New York Times.

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