Today I have a blog that features a piece my husband wrote. When I reread this story that he wrote back in 2008, I knew I wanted to share it. It made me cry for many reasons. First, I really miss his dad, who is a big part of the story. Even though I only knew him for a six short years, he had a big impact on me. His calm and fun loving nature, made him someone you just wanted to be around.
Another reason I felt compelled to share this, is because there has been so much bad press about cops in the last few years. I think it's good for people to know that there is another side to tell. People don't know what cops have to do and see while they are on the job. They not only sacrifice by being physically put in harm's way, their minds have to carry what they have experienced. They have to cope with it beyond the timing of the given incident. That is clear in the story.
My husband John, pictured above, is not a saint, but he and the members of his staff, do so many things that do not make it into the press. Things that go above and beyond regular policing.
Just last week, my husband brought coffee and breakfast to an Eversource worker who was watching a downed power line, and was stuck there overnight. He has brought people to our house when there was a power outage in the other part of town, to make sure they had a warm place to stay. He stops in and visits with some of the residents of Hixson Farm and brings me along to chat with them. He buys Christmas presents for shut ins and financially helps families in need. I could go on for pages, but he probably wouldn't like that. He won't like that I've even included what I have included. He does not seek recognition.
So without further ado, here is :
(Photo taken off of Pinterest, no credit was given)
It’s curious how your mind works when you find yourself in the midst of a catastrophic event. I suppose it may be some ancient biological coping mechanism that has been imprinted within us since the beginning of mankind.
Since becoming a police officer, I have had my fair share of disturbing calls; assaults, fatal accidents, suicides, and so forth. I can clearly recall each incident with vivid detail as well as the flood of seemingly random thoughts that accompanied those tragedies. They are permanently etched in my memory. These sometimes absurd thought associations during critical incidents have intrigued me for years. I suspect it’s the brain’s way of helping us cope. The following account recalls a few of those incidents.
While still on my very first week as a Sharon Police Officer, my field training officer and I were dispatched to a call from a frantic wife claiming that her husband was suicidal. Upon arrival, the distraught woman relayed to us that her husband has been suffering from severe depression. Frantically, she also shared that he was in the basement and that he may have a loaded rifle. I could see that the basement light was on through the side window. I ran to the window and peered in. There he was, sitting on a stool at the end of a table holding a string. My eyes quickly followed the white line, I saw that the line was attached to the trigger mechanism of a rifle through a series of pulleys. The rifle was clamped to the work table with the barrel of the gun pointing directly at his chest. It appeared as though he was going to discharge the weapon at any given moment. I screamed to the arriving sergeant that I was going to break the window. In the second or two that followed, some bizarre thoughts raced through my brain. The first thought being that my wife was cooking hamburgers for supper, and that I was most likely going to be late. I also thought about my father having hamburger for supper on the night he died. “Hamburger was a fitting last meal for a blue collar worker,” I thought. I also pondered that if I broke the window by kicking it in, my brand new “Rocky” high-top boots were most likely going to get cut up. I broke the window and startled the man enough that he looked up. I began shouting to him to come to the window. I explained, that this was my first week on the job, and I would probably quit if he took his life. This short distraction gave the other officers adequate time to enter the house and in turn the basement, where they safely subdued him. My boots were fine, and I was only a few minutes late for supper.
Years later, I was dispatched to the M.B.T.A. train tracks on the Sharon/Foxboro line for a possible pedestrian struck by a commuter train. I arrived on scene and ran down the tracks in the dark. I could see some Foxboro Police Officers with flashlights about one-tenth of a mile down the tracks. While focusing on them, I nearly fell over the torso of what turned out to be a sixteen year old juvenile, who had left his house after having an argument with his mother. High on marijuana, he either did not hear the impending train or voluntarily walked into it. Stunned, I looked down at what remained of him; a torso - no legs, no arms, no head. He was wearing leopard print boxer shorts, but I couldn’t tell if it was the front or back of him. Then began the random thoughts…. Curiously, although I can understand the slight connection with the leopard print shorts, I started to think about the 1967 movie, Born Free. My mind began processing the question of whether or not the woman who played the lead female role was named Elsa, or was that the name of the lioness that she had befriended? I actually began to hum the theme song….Born free, as free as the wind blows… Elsa, as I would later confirm, was the name of the lioness.
Later that night I shared with my wife that I was truly bothered by the fact that the gruesome scene that I had witnessed did not seem to affect me. However, a year from the date of this tragedy, I began having graphic nightmares of this young man’s death. I would later come to understand that these nightmares were a classic characteristic symptom of delayed post-traumatic stress syndrome. In turn, this entire incident became a valuable lesson that I would share with future incoming rookie officers.
The Sunday that my father died had been an uneventful day. Ann Marie and I had recently purchased a new home two blocks from my parent’s house in Sharon. Ann Marie, our four year old daughter, Emily, and myself temporarily moved in with my parents as I was renovating our one-hundred year old purchase. I had worked on the house all day and returned to my parent’s home late that evening. I recall briefly talking with my father and asking him if he had any old shingles. He seemed a bit annoyed. Perhaps now, as I look back, he may not have been feeling one hundred percent. I found out later that he had spent his last day of work lugging boxes of old police records from one building to another.
I took a shower and went to bed in the front bedroom. Ann Marie and Emily had already gone to bed in a separate bedroom at the rear of the house. Not having the energy to search for clean underwear, I decided to sleep without briefs. This is not my normal practice, nor is it information that I would routinely share. However, this fact will help you understand the following scene.
I have always had difficulty falling asleep, and so it was on that night. I had been lying there for about forty five minutes when I first heard my father get up and enter the bathroom. My mother had fallen asleep down stairs and did not follow my father to bed.. I strained to listen, as it sounded as though my father was sick. I was about to get up and check on him when I heard him return to the bedroom. After a few minutes, I then heard what sounded like a table being knocked over. I quickly got up, went to my father’s bedroom and turned on the lights. There, I viewed my dad fully convulsing. My next recollections are a bit foggy, but I think I ran to the bedroom where Ann Marie and Emily were sleeping and awoke them, yelling for Ann Marie to call 911.
I then returned to my father and jumped on top of his body while attempting to perform C.P.R. I administered breaths, then compressions, breaths, then compression. The breaths did not seem to work. It would later be explained to me that my dad had pulmonary edema and his lungs had totally filled with fluid. Essentially, he drowned to death.
Within seconds, my uncle, Eddie, a Sharon Firefighter, arrived on scene. I was handed a pair of shears and instructed to cut off my father’s tee shirt and to continue C.P.R. A few seconds later, Firefighter Dennis Mann and a few other firefighters, arrived on scene with the defibrillator. I looked up and made eye contact with Dennis as he entered the room. I was struck by the look of horror on Dennis’ face. I would only figure out weeks later that Dennis’ expression was most likely due to his witnessing me, butt-ass, naked, sitting on top of my father while performing C.P.R. I never spoke with Dennis about that night, but I do sometimes wonder what he was thinking at that very moment.
I can still see my father’s eyes, they were open and dilated. I would revisit that look many times in the future while responding to fatal scenes through my duties as a police officer. I sometimes wonder if my father could see me that night as his functions began to fail. Did his brain allow him one last glimpse at the world? Later I had a comforting thought that God had allowed me to “kiss” my father goodbye through the act of C.P.R.
After several failed attempts at reviving my dad, the firefighters strapped him to a backboard and maneuvered him from the second floor into the ambulance. My mother attempted to wipe the fluid draining from his mouth with a towel as he was awkwardly carried down the stairs. How bizarre, I would later think. As pointless as my mother’s actions seemed to be at the time, it was a fitting final gesture of love from a woman who had faithfully served her husband of some forty years.
As the firefighters passed by the bedroom where Emily had been sleeping, I glanced in to see her sitting up, wide-eyed, and frightened. In her large brown eyes I foresaw all the lost opportunities that she would miss with her grandfather. Lost times of playing “Beauty and The Beast”, a game Emily and my dad would play for hours at a time. He would don a blanket as his cape and she would chastise him for incorrectly playing the part. The lost birthday parties, I thought, as well as the lost holidays, family gatherings, and perhaps even a wedding someday. Then the thoughts became markedly more random. “No more trips to Jolly Cholly’s,” I thought. Certainly, this was not a rational thought, as Jolly Cholly’s had shut its doors some thirty years in the past.
Jolly Cholly’s was a small amusement park located off of Route One in North Attleboro. I fondly recall going there as a treat on many weekends. I can still smell the sweetness of summer air mixed with the confluence of cotton candy, machinery, fried dough, etc. I can still vividly see my father in his off duty “uniform” which consisted of green chino pants and white tee shirt. His U.S. Navy tattoo peeking out from the sleeve of his shirt. To a small boy of six or seven, that amusement park was the most exciting place in the entire world. It’s funny, but I don’t like amusement parks now, and as “seedy” as Jolly Cholly’s probably was, it will always surpass the wonders of Disney World or any other theme park, because it’s permanently imprinted in the mind of a seven year old. The night of my father’s death, I vividly recall thinking about Jolly Cholly’s neon entry sign. It displayed a huge clown with a disproportionately small head and enormous legs, that you would enter through to access the park. Were the legs emblazoned with white and blue neon strips, or were they green and red? I later confirmed, through an old photograph, that Jolly Cholly’s legs were in fact checkerboard. Did Jolly Cholly beckon you into the park with a waving neon arm or am I mistakenly mixing that recollection with the waving chicken arm of Fontaine’s Family Restaurant in Dedham? You can still make out the rusted remains of Jolly Cholly if you drive down Route One. The run down lot that once housed the park, is tiny and betrays my memories of it being much larger.
It’s curious what your brain thinks of when tragedy strikes. I now have three grown daughters. They will, in their lifetimes, experience tragedies, as tragedies are part of life itself. When those times come, perhaps as part of some coping mechanism, they may have some random recollections of some long past fun vacations with their family on the Outerbanks of North Carolina. I would certainly be OK with that.
I have an engagement session coming up, so I was reviewing some of my past engagement sessions for inspiration. They really put a smile on my face, so I thought I would share a few.
For this one, I waited in a snow storm to capture the actual surprise proposal.
The 1 above and the 2 below are from my first engagement session. This couple is one of the reason I got started in the business. They are friends, so I did their engagement pictures. They asked (begged) me to photograph their wedding. I told them that they didn't want me because I didn't know what I was doing. They didn't care. I caved, scared as hell, I did it. That was it, I loved it and I was hooked. The pictures were not perfect, but it motivated me to take some courses and improve my skills.
Not tack sharp, but good expression. I love natural expressions.
I did another surprise proposal last spring in Boston. These never get tired. She was totally shocked and her reactions were priceless.
It was freezing on this day on the beach, but I love the images we got. This one just felt black and white to me. Maybe the goosebumps don't show as much.
I love to take shots from behind the couples when we are walking. Just look at their pinkies intertwined.
I have always wanted to own a truck like this to use in photo shoots. Paul Spender in Sharon, was gracious enough to let me borrow it for my daughter and son-in-law's engagement pictures.
Dogs in engagement photos seem to be a thing for me. Can't say that I mind. I love dogs.
Just look at the dog's expression in this one!
Being a hopeless romantic, I love looking at these images. I will end with several more images that I really like. I hope you enjoy looking at them, too!
I was going through some pictures in my files and several of them made me smile or even laugh out loud. I began thinking about how much I enjoy every session and how happy my clients make me. I hope that they enjoy their sessions as much as I do.
If you will indulge me, I would like to share some images that reflect the fun I have when I am working. (Is this really a job?)
The last 4 were of the Sharon Education Foundation 80's Prom. It was a BLAST!
This little guy loved to dance.
Getting goofy on your wedding day.
I love when everyone is in on the fun.
Dogs always steal my heart!
This little dog on an engagement shoot, was hysterical.
It's not easy to get work done when your dog is in your office, but it is a lot more fun.
Dogs and kids, double the fun!
Kids being kids at weddings.
Wedding receptions are always fun.
People laughing always gets me laughing.
The remaining images are in a slide show. I hope they make you smile, too.
So many people love photos just like I do. I am so drawn to them. When I go into antique stores, which is quite often, I always find old portraits. I feel intrigued about what their story is, and sad at the same time, that their family does not have the images, but strangers do. It doesn't seem right that the photos are orphaned.
I feel so fortunate to possess some old portraits that are actually from our family. I am so grateful to relatives that came before me, who spent the time and the money to document family. The above portrait is of my husband's grandmother. It is such a beautiful image. Her features are so clear and the styles of the period are clearly reflected.
The family resemblance to my husbands's cousins is remarkable. Without the skills the portrait artist had, we may not have been able to see her so clearly.
This is a photo someone took at our wedding. I am grateful that they did, because we did not have a photographer. (I know, the irony of it all, I now photograph weddings.) We chose not to have one because we both felt that photographers could be so invasive at weddings. Its nice to have this picture, but it's not very clear and it doesn't show much of the detail of my dress, or anything else. Looking back and knowing what I know now, not having a photographer, who knew what they were doing, was a mistake.
Here is a sharp, well lit image of a wedding I photographed last summer. There is a big difference. Sadly, I don't have any images like this of our wedding.
Here is an image of my dad when he was little. I can clearly see what he looked like and I cherish this photo. I'm so glad my grandparents felt it was a good idea to preserve family history.
This is my dad now. He is a healthy, 85 year old , living with my mom in Maine.
Here is the one and only family portrait my own family had done when I was little. I am the one farthest to the right leaning on the arm of the chair. My younger brother was born after this was done. Since we never had another one taken, his baby picture was placed in the corner of the frame. This was hung on the wall in our home. You display things that reflect what is important to you.
Here is another family member that a print was made of. Again, I love the story it tells with its clarity.
So, do you need to hire a professional photographer to document your family? The answer depends on a few variables. If you are adept at capturing images that are clear and well composed, then you don't need a professional. However, professionals are trained in how to light and pose people and then edit, to get the best results. Some people prefer only candid photography and I totally understand that, too. There is a place for both.
With the ever changing technology world, photography has entered a new age where many people's images live on some digital device and are not printed out to be passed on for generations. I can attest to the fact that hard drives fail, and your images can be lost forever. It has happened to me. I still mourn the loss of so many images I loved. Each photo I take is like a family member to me. So be mindful to print images on a regular basis. I like to make photo books periodically, as a way to preserve my images.
Professional quality prints from professional labs, are vastly better than those printed at drug stores and other places that don't solely print images as their business. Labs that professionals use, take great pride in creating meaningful print art that is important to our emotions, our families, and our legacies.
On a side note, my oldest daughter is really interested in family ancestry and through her researching, has found many photos of family members on Ancestry.com. We now have the above image of my husband's grandfather in his military uniform. Being able to see his face is really exciting. It makes family connections seem so much stronger when there is a face to go with the stories.
This awesome family does.
I had the good fortune of meeting them my first year in business, and they have been back every year.
This was the first year.
....and this was last year.
This year started with me working with each one separately, as usual.
Then this started to happen.
Then I give them a strand of lights and make a few suggestions, and this happens.
Might as well get mom involved.
And a good time was has had by all, especially me! LOVE this family! Happy Holidays everyone!
There are so many reasons I love to photograph weddings. I love capturing the emotions, the interactions between people and the children. I am always drawn to them at a weddings. They are just so much fun to watch. In honor of the fact that I will soon be a grandmother, here are some children at weddings that I have photographed. They steal my heart. I can't wait until I get to photograph my own grandson!
A neighbor recently asked me about doing her son's acting head shots. She told me he had just been in a play and he has a big bushy beard. She wanted to know if there was anyway I could do both beard shots and then shot without the beard. She was curious of how one would go about that.
Well she asked the right person. I love to have fun, so I suggested we make a whole photo essay of it. I said we could document the whole process, if her son was up for it. She asked him, and to my surprise, he said sure!
My plan was to first go to a wooded area near our house to get the outdoor woodsy guy look. I must say, I really liked the beard. Mom was not such a fan of it. The light and the background were great. We quickly took a few shots before we had to vacate the area because the mosquitoes started feeding on us.
Next stop was the train station where it was less buggy and there was some good light with interesting backgrounds. Drew was really chill and easy to photograph. He was not nervous at all and we were having a great time.
Then it was time to change the look. Off to his house we went. I couldn't believe he was letting me do this. These kind of crazy shoots are right up my alley, you know "crazy!"
First, Drew used the trimmers to get rid of some bulk.
What a good sport.
Next step, shaving cream.
Now a closer shave with a razor.
Ta dah, a clean shaven Drew!
Now we are off to Patriot's Place where I saw a wall the other day that I thought would be a good backdrop, not before I scape the side of my car on their stonewall backing out of the driveway. Oh I can just "Photoshop" that out, no wait, this is real life.
When we get there, I couldn't quite remember where the wall was. We traipse along looking for it. Again, Drew is so easy going about it, or he's a really good faker. When we finally locate it, I took a few shots. I really didn't like it. He looks good, but I don't like it as a background, it's not the right colors for him.
Here are a few of the ones we got.
This is the shot I took right before Drew looked away......
because a man was driving right toward us in a security cart. The man questioned me as to what I was photographing. I thought it was kinda obvious, so I not so nicely said, "Ah, him!" pointing at Drew.
He then asked, "What else?"
I assured him I was only photographing Drew. He then told me he saw me taking pictures of doors and that was not allowed for security reasons. He said that I could go take pictures in the parking lot if I wanted to take pictures.
Well, I thought we gotten enough anyway. It was time to quit. I should have taken pictures of the man, but I used my better judgement. That probably would not have went well. Don't think it didn't occur to me. Oh well, it just makes for a better story.
I would like to close with my favorite shot. This will get him all kind of comedic roles.
Seriously, good Luck Drew, I know you're going places! Thanks for letting me be part of your journey.
I am teaching again, this time it is photography. I am so delighted to be doing this. I have 4 students that I teach one on one, and we have a blast!
This is a photograph that one of my students took of me. We were going for that blurred background look with only the subject in the focus. This has to do with depth of field. (Great job, Judy!)
In the two above pictures, we were again practicing depth of field. In the first image, the goal was to get everything in the frame, in focus. In the second photo, the iced tea was to be in focus and everything else out of focus, hence , a shallower depth of field.
In order to use these above techniques, you need to know how to use your camera. Cameras do look pretty scary with all those different buttons and knobs, but that's what I am there for, to help you learn how to use your camera.
So many people ask me what camera they should buy. Well, if you don't plan on doing anything but recording life's events, a point and shoot camera works great, so do many cell phone cameras. I use mine all the time because it is always with me. However, if you want to get more creative, or you have a "fancy" camera and only use it on automatic mode, I would love to teach you how to use it.
This is Ashita, one of my students. I am so excited about the progress she is making. Yesterday, we ventured to Borderland for our lesson. I asked her to take a picture of something she liked with my camera while I was figuring out the settings on her camera. (She has an awesome Sony mirrorless camera that I am falling in love with.) The photo below was the first shot.
Before anyone is quick to judge, I wanted it just to be what ever it came out as. I then asked her to use her knowledge of the exposure triangle that we were learning about, to improve it.
Here is the second shot, getting better. You can see me off to the left fiddling with her camera.
This is her 3rd attempt. Wow, what a difference! She is really getting it!
Here she is working on photographing in dark, indoor light without a flash. Not that easy for a beginner, but she did it.
Today, my student Ashley and I went out to shoot at a nearby waterfall. We had been talking about using shutter speed for stopping action or blurring action and waterfalls are a good place to practice. Also, it was the perfect day to experiment because it was overcast out. Too much sun when you are trying to get that blurred effect of a waterfall, will blow out the picture.(overexpose it causing loss of detail) You need to have a UV filter to do that. We didn't have one.
This picture is the waterfall at a slow shutter speed, notice the blurred water.
This one is at a fast shutter speed. See the difference? I t really is not as easy as just changing the shutter speed. Other setting adjustments have to be made and a tripod should be used, but the difference is easy to see.
While we were at the waterfall, a swan came over to interact with us.
We took off to go to the lake in Sharon to get a few shots, but it started to rain.
Serendipitously, while at the lake, I ran into a former 3rd grade student, now an adult, while I was with a current photography student. And what was that previous student doing? He was taking photos. What a nice way to bring the blog about returning to teaching to an end.
If you have an interest in taking lessons, too. I would love to include you in my growing number of students. Just contact me through my web site contact page or on Facebook.
What a treat to be able to photograph a wedding for two wonderful people at very unique and interesting place, The Metropolitan Water Works Museum in Boston.
Liz and Leland were such a great couple to work for. They know what they like and they know how to have a good time. The unique venue, with a mix of industrial machines and rich textures of brick and wood, made for great pictures. I love the mood brought on by the lighting around the museum.
I love this image captured by my second shooter, Axie Breen.
There were so many special moments that night. I love the emotion here as as Dad and Liz share a special dance together.
The vows were beautiful. Look at the way they are looking at each other....
..and how both sets of parents are looking at them.
The groom's sister helped Liz get ready and was such a delight to be around.
Mom, dad, (he's behind there, see his hand) ,sister, and groom share a moment. I am a sucker for seeking out and documenting emotion.
I truly enjoyed photographing this wedding. Here are a few more shots from this memorable night.
The favorite cousin!
A special shout out to Jules Catering of Somerville, MA, the food was fabulous! http://www.julescatering.com
Congratulations Liz and Leland. I wish you many blessings in your life together!
For any of you that know my husband and I, you might find it strange that we bought a vacation home in Maine and not in warmer North Carolina, like we originally planned. We actually made an offer on a piece of property right on the water in N.C., which was accepted. Sadly, we had to pull out of that deal because erosion had compromised the septic system.
tFast forward to the summer of 2016, my husband continued to look a properties online. He asked me to come look at one he had found in Maine. He said, " It's the one!" I was surprised he was looking in Maine and even more surprised that he was so excited about it. I was born in Fort Kent , Maine and went to college in Maine. I took a look, and he was right, it was the one. There was just something about it. A bonus to its location, my brother and his family live only 25 minutes from it in nearby Camden.
The house was listed as "For sale by owner" so I asked my brother to look into it for me. He contacted the owners for me and was excited to tell me what he found out. He said, " You're not going to believe this, but the people selling the house have the same last name as you and the wife's name is Ann and they are originally from Massachusetts."
He gave me her number and we talked on the phone. I liked her right away. We made an appointment to go view the property.
My Brother met us, and we went to view the property. I absolutely fell in love with everything about it. Bob Ford, the owner, built the home himself, what a perfectionist and a super nice person. Everything was so well done. It was the perfect size and surrounded by nature. Bob built a larger house for them on their land on the other side of the road. So they would be our neighbors if we bought the house.
This is the granite step to the wood shed, it says, "FORD." How cool is that? We knew we had to buy this place.
We did buy the house and know God led us to the right property. We love it so much! We have enjoyed picking out the right furnishings, my husband is awesome at that, and getting the house ready to enjoy and share with others.
It wasn't long before the house was set up and feeling like home. One essential piece was the piano. Like I need photography, my husband needs his music. We had piano movers and a pianist Bob Barry, from Pennsylvania, where my husband purchased the piano, come and join us overnight after they delivered the piano. What a great time we had.
They were the first to sign our guest book.
I love to listen to him play.
My new bedroom is huge and overlooks the woods and stream.
Gotta have wood in Maine.
No pool boy here, just a happy woodshed man.
The wildlife here is amazing!
Our new fall fashion color is orange.
and the views, are beautiful.
There have been so many wonderful memories made here already, and a wonderful friendship has started with my new neighbors, I look forward to what the future will bring in Maine.
After 31 years of teaching, I have decided to retire and start a new chapter of my life as a photographer. It has been my passion for about 7 years now.