Few people value and love photographs as much as my cousin, Brittany, and my aunt, Sylvia. Aunt Sylvia always had a camera at family gatherings when we grew up and loved taking pictures of all the craziness that unfolded when the whole Gelineau clan was together. Brittany inherited this love for pictures and it's always a treat when I get to photograph her. Several weeks before Christmas she called me to schedule a very special portrait session for her family. The first portraits they've taken as a family since she and her husband, Graham, were married in 2015. "I'm worried I will regret it if I don't do this now," she said.
Why the sense of urgency? Brittany is 26 years old and faced with something that most of us will not face until we are in our 50s or older. She is the primary caregiver for her mother, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's three years ago. It was a surprising diagnosis and not something that Brittany expected to hear when she was in her early 20s. It has been a journey of ups and downs, hope and despair, but, most importantly, love.
When we met up at the session location, my aunt immediately smiled at me. I wasn't sure if she could recall my name, but she smiled with a sweet familiarity and gave me a hug. Amazingly, as soon as I pulled out the camera she looked at me and smiled. She was ready to go. As I said, she always loved pictures. It was quite a group of us for the session between Brittany and her husband, Graham, her brother, Brett, and his girlfriend, Ashton. A portrait session experience could be confusing for someone with Alzheimer's because there is a lot going on and multiple combinations of portraits to take, but Aunt Sylvia was a total natural in front of the camera, her blue eyes shining in every shot. We had to remind her to smile from time-to-time, but I have to remind people of that at almost every session. :)
Throughout her journey as a caregiver, Brittany has been a rock for her mother and I believe that it is her strength of faith in God and the unfailing support of her husband and brother that have seen her through the hardest of days. I was so honored to take these portraits for their family and so thankful that the weather was warm enough for us to go to a beach location (I still can't believe the warm December weather we had!). The beach is my aunt's favorite place to be in the world. You can just tell she feels at peace when she's near the water. I could tell just being there with her children brought happiness to her.
A mother's love knows no disease. Even if she can't tell them how much she loves them every day, I could see the love shining through. As we turned to head back to the car, I saw Brittany embrace Aunt Sylvia. I thought to myself, that is a portrait of love.
I am currently taking reservations for spring portrait sessions! Please contact me today to make a reservation. Spring dates are VERY popular so it's important to make reservations early!
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