Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Echoes of my Father

My Dad, 1962
(photo by Bruce Steinhardt)

Yesterday I visited my 93 year-old mother-in-law in the hospital. It was my first visit of this particular hospitalization, as I have been busy holding down the home front so my husband, Danny, could spend as much time as possible with her.

“Sure”, I’d said when he gave me the pavilion and room number. “Easy, I know that ward, see you there around noon.”  Bustling about, trying to wrestle order from chaos in our apartment, I did not stop to think for a moment why I knew that ward so well.  So it took me by complete surprise when I burst into tears as I rounded the corner to approach the cardiac care unit.

The one where my father had spent much time in the last year of his life.

He didn’t die there, but still, it was full of memories.



So here, I want to pay tribute to him once again.

This is one of his important photographs:
Jim Steinhardt
Woman in Greenwich Village Cafe, 1948

And this, his most well known, "signature"  photograph:
Jim Steinhardt
Cement worker, 1955
Here is another legendary one:
Jim Steinhardt
Pearl Seller, 1947
He loved to photograph children at play :
Jim Steinhardt
Girl Playing Hopscotch, 1950
Everyone loves this one:
Jim Steinhardt
Coffee Shop Santa , 1949
Finally, here is my father last year in September, on my Mother’s birthday, during our last good family time. By Thanksgiving he was really ill, by the spring, gone.
Dad, September 2, 2009

Good bye again, Dad. I was thinking of you today, mourning you anew.

Remembering how I would tape up Xeroxes of your photos around your hospital beds to cheer you up.  So we could look at something of beauty in that place of pain and diminishing.  And so we could show the hospital staff “The failing body in this bed was a person.  This old man was somebody.  This is the man who took these beautiful, astonishing photos. Treat him well.”

If you would like to see more of my fathers photos, look here.  And if you would like to know a little about his life, here is my eulogy that I read at his memorial service this past March.

He wanted to be known. He was beloved. He is remembered.

I’m linking up to Wordless Wednesday at Angry Julie Monday.


  1. The one entitled "Dad, 1960's."

    Did he take that photo?

    Or did someone else?

    I could stare at that photo all day.

  2. I love the photographs and I hope it helps you to have something of your father that you can so fiercely hang onto and proudly show the world x

  3. Amazing, Varda. Such an awesome tribute to your dad.

  4. Your father was such an amazing photographer, wasn't he?

    Also, I get that part about you wanting to be sure the man in the bed was really a person. I felt that way about my grandfather when he was in care after his stroke. Like the nurses saw this babbling, incoherent man - and we saw are amazing grandfather.

  5. Thank you for this tribute to your Dad.

    I so get what that would have felt like to walk back into that same hospital.

    My dad died a year ago and we had a horrible experience in the hospital.

    A prognosis we got of 3-6 months -- with a diagnosis of advanced (undetected), inoperable lung-cancer, couldn't withstand chemo -- at 4 30 p.m. Tuesday turned into being told at 9 p.m. by the nurse: "He may not make it through the night." But there was no communication. We were dumped in a private room to cope on our own. Luckily we had hired a private personal support worker. The nurses were sparse and sat at their computers at the station monitoring technology. I ran around begging them for morphine. My Dad rallied at 3 am, singing with me, and I couldn't possibly imagine he was going to die that night. I went to ask the nurse at the station: "Is my dad dying?" No one had uttered the word "death" yet. "We already spoke about that," was all she would say. So, because he had dementia and we'd been told we had to have someone with him 24/7, I went home to sleep for a couple of hours. To get the call at 6 that he'd died and to come back to the hospital and find his precious belongings stuffed in a plastic bag that said: "soiled laundry" -- yes, the precious human gets lost in that system.

    I'm not sure about the US, but there is little hands-on nursing care here in Canada. No one told us what to expect, how we would know death was near, what to say that would comfort, even that he was about to die.


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!