Mom

PhotographerMark Edward Harris
PrizeHonorable Mention
City/CountryLos Angeles, United States
Photo Date2016-2017
Technical InfoLeica D-Lux and FujiFilm X-T2
Story

Mom. In English it’s such a simple palindrome. Yet it is packed with so much personal history instinctive emotion. Variations are also the first word most of us utter. That’s why it’s so painfully difficult to see our mother’s suffer whether you refer to her as maman, mutter, majka, mamma, mzazi, or ahm, etsi, haha, ina, or umma. I came face to face – literally – with my mother and her deteriorating condition when she collapsed face forward onto the dining table. The odds of me being there at that particular moment were infinitesimally small. I had just stopped by to say “hello” and for a quick dinner on a 24-hour layover between assignments in Japan and Oklahoma. I dragged my mother onto the floor, yelled to my wheelchair-bound father to call 911, then gave my mom mouth to mouth and chest compressions. In the background I soon heard my father frantically explaining to the emergency operator, “My wife has passed away.” Fortunately, that was not the case. CPR brought her back long enough for the paramedics to arrive and get her to the hospital. Her heart stopped once again in the ambulance but they were able to get her stabilized. A week later she came home with a pacemaker. Unfortunately, a horrendous case of edema in her legs soon swelled to the forefront of her medical issues. Unbeknownst to me until it was almost too late, the skin on both legs split and wounds bearing down on her tibia and fibula bones developed. By the time I got her to the hospital, she was millimeters away from loosing her left leg. I’m not sure why I decided to document this second family drama in as many years. I’ve used the camera to document the devastation of tsunamis in Japan and Thailand, earthquakes in Nepal and Los Angeles, displaced peoples in Iraq, geopolitical issues in North Korea and Iran, but never something so private. Yet in doing so I realized that there is something universal in the personal. It was heartbreaking to be with my mom when she would shove a pillow in her mouth to keep from screaming as she was having her wounds chemically debrided. For weeks she would ask the doctors or anyone else that would listen for a suicide pill. As her wounds began to heal so did her spirit. Smiles began to appear on a visage that I thought for a long time would not bear on again. Because of incredible medical care and in the end her will to live, after months in hospital and rehab rooms, mom came back home, wheelchair bound, but home.

Entry Description

Confronting the reality of a parent suffering with life-threatening medical issues and at times losing the will to live.

Story

Mom. In English it’s such a simple palindrome. Yet it is packed with so much personal history instinctive emotion. Variations are also the first word most of us utter. That’s why it’s so painfully difficult to see our mother’s suffer whether you refer to her as maman, mutter, majka, mamma, mzazi, or ahm, etsi, haha, ina, or umma. I came face to face – literally – with my mother and her deteriorating condition when she collapsed face forward onto the dining table. The odds of me being there at that particular moment were infinitesimally small. I had just stopped by to say “hello” and for a quick dinner on a 24-hour layover between assignments in Japan and Oklahoma. I dragged my mother onto the floor, yelled to my wheelchair-bound father to call 911, then gave my mom mouth to mouth and chest compressions. In the background I soon heard my father frantically explaining to the emergency operator, “My wife has passed away.” Fortunately, that was not the case. CPR brought her back long enough for the paramedics to arrive and get her to the hospital. Her heart stopped once again in the ambulance but they were able to get her stabilized. A week later she came home with a pacemaker. Unfortunately, a horrendous case of edema in her legs soon swelled to the forefront of her medical issues. Unbeknownst to me until it was almost too late, the skin on both legs split and wounds bearing down on her tibia and fibula bones developed. By the time I got her to the hospital, she was millimeters away from loosing her left leg. I’m not sure why I decided to document this second family drama in as many years. I’ve used the camera to document the devastation of tsunamis in Japan and Thailand, earthquakes in Nepal and Los Angeles, displaced peoples in Iraq, geopolitical issues in North Korea and Iran, but never something so private. Yet in doing so I realized that there is something universal in the personal. It was heartbreaking to be with my mom when she would shove a pillow in her mouth to keep from screaming as she was having her wounds chemically debrided. For weeks she would ask the doctors or anyone else that would listen for a suicide pill. As her wounds began to heal so did her spirit. Smiles began to appear on a visage that I thought for a long time would not bear on again. Because of incredible medical care and in the end her will to live, after months in hospital and rehab rooms, mom came back home, wheelchair bound, but home.

About Photographer

Mark Edward Harris? assignments have taken him to 98 countries on six continents. His editorial work has appeared in publications such as Vanity Fair, LIFE, Time, Newsweek, GEO, Conde Nast Traveler, AFAR, Wallpaper, Casa Vogue, GQ, Hong Kong Tatler, Money Magazine, Architectural Digest, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, and The London Sunday Times Travel Magazine as well as all the major photography. His books include Faces of the Twentieth Century: Master Photographers and Their Work, The Way of the Japanese Bath, Wanderlust, North Korea, South Korea, Inside Iran and The Travel Photo Essay.