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In My Fathers House by Marion  Cullen

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Small (23.2" x 15.3")

$3250.80
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Some of you may remember this image, I wanted to reload it again because I have a deep connection with this portrait of my father as it serves to remind me of both the fragility of life and the tenacity of some to keep living it.
The items on the table in front of him represent his life as it is now, a simple yet, as he reassures me & I have witnessed, very fulfilling life.

This portrait of my father was taken 3 days after he came out of hospital after having a golf ball size tumour removed from his large intestine. The tumour had caused him to suffer a major blockage that saw him unable to keep any food down for several days. My father lives alone in a run down cottage in country Victoria, 600km away from family and 25km from the nearest town or hospital. After 3 days of constant vomiting he walked the kilometre and a half to the nearest bus stop and took himself to the hospital, firmly believing he’d be home again by the evening, (my father has always imagined himself to be invincible). Needless to say they didn’t let him go home and operated on him the very next day. His instructions to the nursing staff at the time were that they not call me, (I am his only offspring), unless, (and I quote), “something really bad happens”.

A day after his surgery, which saw the tumour successfully removed, my father was again rushed into the operating room. Apparently the surgeon hadn’t stitched him up properly and he had sprung a leak internally. During this second surgery dad also suffered a minor heart attack because his system could not cope with two such close, major surgeries – my father was 68 at the time.
Despite all the ‘bad things’ that had already occurred, he still refused to let the nursing staff call me & he spent the ensuing 3 and a half weeks in hospital recovering, during this time he lost 45kg because he couldn’t keep a thing down for 3 weeks.
Two days after arriving back home, he finally decided to call me, I immediately drove to Victoria and spent the week with him to help aid in his recovery. I was initially shocked when I saw him as he looked so frail and old….I had always thought him invincible too.
When I questioned him as to why the hospital staff had not contacted me, he explained that he had instructed them not to as he did not want to worry us (!!!) and really, what could I do whilst he was in hospital, he’d rather have me there with him now.

My father has always been a stubborn, infallible bugger. He used to drink like a fish, (in fact a fish would have drowned by now), and has smoked like a trooper for nearly 55 years, still, he insists that he shall live to be 100, and that indeed he knows that even the devil doesn’t want him for he is far too big a rival!

My dad & I have not always had a good relationship, in fact my father could be abusive in his younger days when he drank, he also had a gambling addiction.
During his time of recovery and subsequent chemo treatment I spent a great deal of time with him, time that took us back through over many years – it was both a painful and very cathartic experience that has since led us to be able to make our peace with one another.
I am very grateful to have had that opportunity, as it could very well have gone the other way. This image will always be a poignant reminder.

He has in the mean time made a full recovery, even having the colostomy bag he was told he’d have till the end, reversed – (he’s definitely made a full recovery there! lol)

This image is not for sale

Copyright Notice
© Marion Cullen
All rights reserved.

Tags

cancer, environmental portrait, father, life, marion cullen, people, portrait, survivor

Comments

  • Joanne  Bradley
    Joanne Bradleyover 4 years ago

    I do and it is spectacular! I love his focused look out the window, the grouping of objects on the table but most of all the incredible light you captured! (Oh and the binoculars!!!!) Keeping an eye on the world!

  • That you remeber this means a lot to me, thank you Joanne, and thank you too for your kind & generous words. I spoke with my father this morning and told him I was posting this image again as well as the write up, and was glad to have his okay. Says a lot that he sits in ownership of and comfort with our past.

    – Marion Cullen

  • lianne
    lianneover 4 years ago

    I loved it – and all it symbolized the first time you posted it Marion and I love it even more today. Spending these weeks with my mom in and out of the hospital, looking mortality in the eye so to speak, I understand this even more than I did at first. Regardless of our relationship with our parents, or any loved one, there is something admirable and worthy about their tenacity, and something worthwhile in our reconciling any differences we might have had over the years. A powerful image, my friend, even if it were not your father!!

  • Lianne, I so was thinking about you today and how you were going with your mum when I wrote this. I so agree with what you have written, I never would have thought as teen or even as a young woman with my own children that I could ever reach a place of real acceptance & understanding around my very complex relationships with both of my parents. I have always recognised something there worth fighting to hold onto and developing further but in the past emotional immaturity & circumstance kept me from this exploring further, despite the many silent conversations I had had in my head with them over the years. Initiating these conversations for real was extremely difficult, they opened the floodgates of uncertainty, (what would be the reaction?), but I wasn’t going to risk not being able to have them at all. We may only get one chance, seldom do we get several.
    Thank you so much my friend, your words are always full of comfort & deep understanding. My thoughts are with you and your mum.

    – Marion Cullen

  • Kitty Schul
    Kitty Schulover 4 years ago

    Oh Marion, I just love this. Wonderful job!

  • Thank you very much Kitty, I am touched that it ‘reached’ out to you. Lovely to see you girl!

    – Marion Cullen

  • Matt Bottos
    Matt Bottosover 4 years ago

    great portrait of a wonderfully “stubborn & infallible bugger” :) By the sounds of it he really would give the devil a run for his money ;)

  • I can vouch for it Matt! ;)
    And thank you so much, I value your opinion on this image, it is much respected and appreciated.

    – Marion Cullen

  • Pagly4u
    Pagly4uover 4 years ago

    truly a Dinky -Di aussie…..one from the old school…….not many left ……like him a Treasure…though I doubt he would accept that……..just Love him more…Hugs…A beautiful tribute……thank you….

  • Heehee, my dad would be chuffed to hear someone call him a dinky di Aussie, because at heart he really IS despite being an immigrant with a still very broad German accent. 44 years ago he took to Australia and its culture like a duck to water and hasn’t looked back since. Thank you too Pagly4, I will be letting him know.

    – Marion Cullen

  • Wendi Donaldson
    Wendi Donaldsonover 4 years ago

    Marion, this is such a poignant image and history to go along with it. Being able to reconnect with your Dad at this stage in both your lives is a true gift that many do not get to experience. Treasure the time. (Amazing too, as we get older, the fewer and fewer things we truly need for our comfort….the items on the table say it all!)
    ps….I think you may have inherited his feistiness too! LOL

  • You are right Wendi, it is a gift … the gift was being given the opportunity to realise that I should not miss the opportunity while I still had it. Being brave enough to sieze it took effort and a great leap outside of my own comfort zone, as I had settled in a comfortable place of loathing for a long time – I am sure my father felt the same – but I’m so grateful it happened, the experience has been a huge revelation, not only for me, but about me … and I have to admit, I like myself more too now. :)
    Thank you my friend, and just for the record … everyone close to me tells me I take strongly after my dad, and now a days I don’t mind that comparisson at all. ;)

    – Marion Cullen

  • linaji
    linajiover 4 years ago

    It is simply evey thing in your work that is like a NOVEL.. good god I dont even feel like reading the side bar cause I have my own intimate story for this.. Wow my darling you are an incredible talent!
    CAN I FAV THIS A GAZIILLION TIMES????

  • Great comments like this & one fav from you Lina, IS like having a gazillion favs for me! I appreciate you so much, because you never fail to see the true ‘art’ that is life.

    – Marion Cullen

  • linaji
    linajiover 4 years ago

    BTW.. i have read your story and appreciate you sharing so very much. xoxo

  • I did hesitate at first about posting the story Lina, but to me it was integral to the image, and to the reasons why I took it. The day I shot this I was sitting across the table from my dad tinkering with my camera bits, we had talked for a while and then just sat in silence together, I knew he was really exhausted and yet so glad to be home, the silence was comfortable. After a while I caught him looking out of the window, he had a small smile on his face, & I saw this image & it’s meaning instantly, almost instinctively I began changing the camera settings before even raising it. I had time to frame the shot because my father was totally absorbed, and slowly squeezed the shutter button, almost willing it to not make a sound. The photo is a complete candid, just like the life and story that unfolded after it …yet somehow I had already recognised the shift right in this instance. I believe this was as close to a spiritual connection as I have ever had.

    – Marion Cullen

  • H Maria Perry
    H Maria Perryover 4 years ago

    My thoughts on parents:

    When we are young, often we do not recognize that our parents are human being with failings, faults and demons. A most profound moment is when we come suddenly to the realization that our parents are human: they love and hurt too. We can know only what they share with us. We can only appreciate them when we accept that they are more than just our parents; they are fellow human beings.

    Most outstanding photograph from a most outstanding human being! Thank you for sharing this important part of your life with us. xoxo

  • You always know how to make me smile Helen, I appreciate you so much my friend. :)
    Your thoughts on parents are spot on, as children we see them as infalible, we have this perception that our parents ‘should’ be perfect and fall hard when they don’t measure up. It’s usually not till much later, if we have learnt our own lessons well, that we realise they are just like us. I came to this understanding eventually through acknowledgment of my own imperfections.

    – Marion Cullen

  • Steven  Agius
    Steven Agiusover 4 years ago

    This is a great portrait Marion and a very touching story to go with it hopeful these events have brought you closer to him now than ever before and hopefully he too my friend.

  • Thank you as ever for your unfailing support and kind words Steven. My father spent 6 weeks living with us over Christmas & New Year, to say he left a gap when he went back home is an understatment, all 4 of us miss him. We keep in touch by phone though and the relationship just goes from strength to strength. :)

    – Marion Cullen

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