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Slowly at First

Edward Boches | MA - Massachusetts, United States

Organization: Boches Photography

Gloria, back home after her last hospital stay. Following an ICU visit and a week as an in patient she opted to come home in hospice care. While she retained all of her faculties and her sense of humor, her 87-year old heart and lungs were starting to give out.

We avoid talking about death. But my Mom, Gloria, who recently passed was very open about it. She was 87 years old. She had been ill for a while. She was ready and eager to die as long as she could die at home. My family was fortunate. Gloria could make her own decisions and chose hospice. We – sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren -- all got to be there and keep her company.  We shared stories, talked about life and death, made videos, expressed our love, and said good-bye. If there is such a thing as a beautiful death, this was it. A family brought closer together by a Mom passing. And the opportunity to embrace and experience this ultimate stage of life. This short project, Slowly at First, shares that experience.

For the last two years, my 87-year-old Mom, Gloria Boches Abramson, had been housebound as her physical condition slowly deteriorated. In May of 2018, pneumonia sent her to the ICU and left her even weaker, her lungs and heart both compromised.

Despite having all of her mental faculties and sense of humor, she decided enough was enough. She rejected the hospital’s recommendation for rehab and opted instead for hospice care. She was ready and eager to die, but determined to die at home.

I had been casually photographing and video recording my Mom for the last few years. We had discussed death and dying as well as her wishes for her funeral. In many ways those conversations and photo sessions brought us closer together as we spent lots of time in each other’s company.

When I asked Mom if I could document her final days as a way to both witness her courage and confront my own fear of losing her, she agreed. She had been an artist herself -- a painter, illustrator, and musician -- and knew that this was important to me.

In hospice care, she started to improve, and we both thought this project might go on for six months. But then suddenly, her health took a turn for the worse, and in a matter of days it was over.

Slowly at First captures my Mom’s last month on earth and all the emotions it triggered.

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