It had been a long time since I had stayed overnight at my father’s house and as we waited for the ambulance to arrive, the early morning light filtered through the rooms. It was so beautiful and unexpected that for a moment I felt hopeful. I took a photograph before we left.
Neither of us had any idea that when we went to the hospital that morning my father would remain there for seven weeks and would never see his home again. There were talks of carers, of nursing homes, assisted living, but there was always the hope that he would be able to continue his life as independently as possible.
My father had lived alone for the past eleven years in a small modern bungalow a mile from the sea. It had been decorated by my mother a long time ago and was full of warm tones, of pinks and oranges that glowed in sunlight. While he was in hospital he occasionally asked me to visit the house and I realised I wanted to take some photographs. Part of me sensed that he wouldn’t be coming home now and that this would be my only chance to record it while he was alive and his presence was there. That quiet time, slowly walking through the rooms with my camera, was also a way for me to cope with him being ill. I didn’t want to photograph his personal objects. I only wanted to record the essence of the home, its space and light.
Now, in winter, I’m here to pack boxes and disassemble the family home. Much of the house looks the same as when my father was here but the light is weaker and colder and enters the rooms differently; the colours are subdued. It still feels like my father’s house when I visit, but for how much longer? Every time I visit it changes a little more. I photograph the lines, the light and the space so they can’t be forgotten, the colours, reflections and patterns that flow between rooms. Small details, as yet unchanged, that make this place my father’s home.
Written by: Mandy Williams