It is natural, I know, to want one’s child to appear an individual, to be able to express it’s own individuality and to make it’s way finding their position in life. It is almost without contradiction that one also wants their child to belong, to become part of the maelstrom that calls itself society – to fit in. One wants them to excel or to at least find their métier in life and become content, happy, fulfilled; accepted by the main stream of society instead of being washed to one side. Parental love, that unquestioning, unrelenting and unremitting love that is sometimes unrequited, unfair and undeserved and which is part of the mix for parents, is what is described in this book.
“Up Close” – a mother’s view by Fiona Yaron-Field is a photo book that depicts (primarily) the feelings of the author towards one of her two daughters, her first-born child, Ophir.
The author relates her feelings almost from the moment her daughter is born to the current day (the book was published in 2008). It records the everyday life of mother and daughter, about the growing up, the fun days, the sad days, through the thick and thin of emotional turmoil as Ophir develops her independence, her character, her personality. These emotions depicted in the very tender, poignant, funny and sometimes-stark images that are accompanied by text revealing much of the emotion associated with rearing. The what-if’s the maybe’s the hopes and fears; from page 52..
“I’m practicing trust, consciously practicing. I’m in the kitchen, Ophir is somewhere in the house, I think in the basement where the computer is. I’m not going to check. There is a toilet, sink, washing machine, dryer, freezer, some bikes. No, I’m going to stay in the kitchen. Not even pretend to do the laundry. The door is between us. I’ll finish washing the dishes and put some music on.
The image opposite on page 53 is one of a ‘scraped’ knee and lots of hands cuddling, reassuring, holding.
The photographs in this photo-book come in differing shapes and sizes, monochrome and colour, the consistent narrative that holds the piece together is the subject Ophir, or perhaps to be more specific, the mother’s love for her daughter Ophir, and which is perhaps best summed up by the daughter herself in her statement which is used as a postscript by the author:
Page 93 –
“This book is all about me, and my life and my mum. It is full of photographs and writing together. The photographs show me and my friends and what we’re doing. The writing is about Mummy.
I like the pictures of when I was a baby best. I am being held by lots of hands in the water. When I was a baby I was in hospital, there’s a tube in my nose. It makes me feel I want to be a baby again. I like the funny writing, when Hannah and I said ‘ssshhh, kit-kats.’ It tells the story of Hannah and me. She is a really good friend and so is Amy.
I am at the summer fair, there are lots of children and I am standing there being bored and doing nothing. I still like the photo because all my friends are there.
I don’t like posing for photographs but it was ok for Mum to take them of me and Noa. Sometimes the book is funny and sometimes it is a bit sad, not too much though.”
The writing is indeed about ‘Mummy’, and for that description perhaps the opening two paragraph’s in the book set up the journey that the narrative takes the reader on.
Page 1 –
“The numbness starts before they take me to the quiet room. Like a crash survivor wandering along bleeding. I am numb when I stare into the incubator at this tiny blue baby, so bereft of her inside me and so unable to reach out to her.
Then here I am, sitting barely dressed, frightened I will bleed on their chairs. As the doctor explains the diagnosis, images flash, not of my baby but a woman in a girl’s dress, white ankle socks, flat shoes, holding her ageing mother’s hand in a street, in a supermarket, or on a bus. And as though she’s read my mind I hear her say: ‘Things have changed’ – but I don’t believe her.”
An inspirational book that reveals a very personal reflection of the relationship of two people who happen to be mother and daughter, at times raw and others amusing, but it appears always honest, and I book that I would aspire to.