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Happy birthday, Maureen!

November 23, 2016  •  14 Comments

Maureen and Kathleen were born in 1926 and share an Irish Catholic heritage. They met and became friends in 1942 at sixteen years of age when working at the Department of Public Works in Sydney. Marrying the loves of their lives, each raised six children. Throughout the years, through thick and thin, their friendship has endured; sharing the joys of raising their own families, and grief when they lost their soul mates.

For most of their friendship they've been separated by distance except for brief visits; Maureen living in Sydney, and Kathleen in Inverell in northern NSW. Kathleen now lives in Port Macquarie in a retirement village and Maureen lives in a nursing home in Parramatta. It's been more than a decade since they've seen each other face to face. Phone conversations have been regular.

On one of my visits to see my mother, Kathleen, she produced an envelope that had arrived in the mail a few days earlier. It was an invitation to a small gathering to celebrate Maureen's 90th birthday. We celebrated Kathleen's 90th in March and it was not possible for Maureen to be there other than in spirit.

"I'd love to see her again but...", Mum began...

"You are going! We will make it happen," I was adamant. For twelve months I'd been saying to Mum, "If you ever want to go down to see Maureen, just say the word and we will make it happen".

And so we did, last Sunday. We had decided to make it a surprise. Mum said to Maureen's daughter, "Let's not tell Maureen...just in case. At our age you never know."

What a joy to see these grand old friends rejoicing in each other's company once again. What more reward could a son want than to see the happiness.

I've put together a slideshow to celebrate Maureen's birthday (it's today) and her 74 years of friendship with my mother. Naturally, it will be of most interest to our own families, however, photographers may be able to take something away from the viewing that will give them ideas for documenting their own family milestones before opportunities are lost. 

Happy birthday, Maureen! God bless.

Notes for photographers
The show runs for 4m 15s and contains two soundtracks licenced from "Inspiration Hill" by Brian Keane; and "Only You" by Emerson & Emilio Palame.

My instructions to Maureen and Kathleen before I began to photograph were simple—"Please ignore me. Forget that I am here. I will get what I can get."

I photographed with a telephoto zoom lens at its maximum aperture of f2.8 and the camera set to ISO 800 . No flash. When we visited Maureen in her room on Monday morning before we left Sydney, I pulled back the curtain to exploit window light. They reminisced and chatted with my wife, Ruby. The final four images say it all for me.

True friends are always together in spirit. (Anne Shirley) — L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


sue carter
Hi Rob. I do not know either of the women but found it extremely moving. Well done
Thank you one and all for your kind comments on this piece of work. I was privileged to be able to do it. Portraiture is not my long suit and I have generally been disinterested in photographing people that I do not know or have a connection with. I think the images I captured last weekend are testament to the power of connectedness in shaping one's approach to the task.

Sorry about prematurely ageing you, Geoff! I have corrected it. ®
Geoff Muscutt(non-registered)
Rob, You have done an excellent job of showing the love and happiness of two lifelong friends which can only be captured as you have done by being in the background and shooting ad lib. As the oldest member of the photographic club to which we both belong it will only be a few years before I get to 90 as my age jumped 3 years in your last blog!
David Ashton
You deserve high praise Rob, not just for the pictures which are so evocative and joyful, but also for bringing two old friends together and causing that joy to happen. Good onya!
Terry Rutledge(non-registered)
Rob, Within these images you have indeed captured the deep affection between Maureen and Kathleen. You have a wonderful gift of engaging the viewer.
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