Last weekend I wrote a very personal blog about my Dad's declining health. The comments in support of what I've been feeling at seeing him slowly leave us have been amazing, but even more important, healing. Well, last night Dad went home to God, and this is my third attempt at trying to write something beyond sadness.
While I can't deny a huge sense of loss, this is a time when I want to celebrate Dad's life, which after 93 years was the kind of life we all hope to look back on in our final hours. Dad and Mom were married for two weeks short of 66 years when she lost the battle to Alzheimer's. I remember Dad leaning over her, just before her last breath and saying, "We had an incredible run. I love you."
There it is, the essence of my Dad - just a guy who loved his family and friends more than anything else. In fact, nothing else really mattered to him, and that brings me full circle to still trying to figure out what to share here. You see, there aren't many guys my age who still had their parents around, let alone enjoyed being with them. I had them both these last few years living in Florida. Even yesterday, just hours before Dad let go, when I whispered in his ear, "You'll always be my best buddy," he squeezed my hand recognizing my presence.
Just to keep imaging in today's post, my Dad absolutely loved photography. Hasselblad's legendary Ernst Wildi once told me the difference between a professional photographer and an amateur is that amateurs show you all of their shots! Well, through thousands of Kodachrome and then Ektachrome images Dad never threw a single slide away. He later got into prints and eventually digital, but his biggest challenge was trying to find a camera for my mother that didn't cut off heads. My mother could never frame a shot, and it sent Dad off in search of the one camera that wasn't "defective".
He loved coming to conventions with me and especially when he and Don Blair could hang out together. While he was in awe of Don's ability to capture/create a stunning portrait, the friendship between them was more about their mutual love for their families, because that was the standard for both of them.
My Dad was simply the epitome of a great "Pop" and the stories I have, many supported with photographs over the years, will last me the rest of my life. Behind every tear is a bitter-sweet smile - I'm going to miss him a lot, but what a gift he gave our family and me. I couldn't be prouder to be Ralph Cohen's son.
Those we love don't go away. They walk beside us every day, unseen, unheard, but always near...
still loved, still missed and very dear.
So Pop, thanks for a lifetime of smiles, support and simply being my best pal. You never gave up on me. You never stopped being supportive. While it might have been your heart that finally gave out, maybe it was because you gave so much of it to all of us. Sure do love ya!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.