A sequel image to In My Father’s House. A portrait made on a subsequent visit, and whilst my father was still undergoing chemotherapy for a golfball sized tumour removed from his large intestine.
The central placement was deliberate in this composition, not only is it exactly the view a person would see sitting opposite, it is also a metaphor for the centrality of this spot in my fathers life.

This spot at the table next to the window would have to be the place my father frequents and favours most over any other space in his home.
From my own observations he begins and concludes every day from this very spot.

My fathers day begins, (after a quick wash in the lean to), with his regular morning ritual which varies relatively little. First comes the shave. My father likes to look good and never misses an opportunity, or has any qualms, telling people just HOW good he looks, and just HOW much better he looks than anyone else. Lol! The shaving ritual is performed one handed, and is always, but always, accompanied by a cigarette, expertly brandished in the other hand.
Whilst shaving AND smoking, he simultaneously scans the TV guide, (newspaper to his left), so as to plan his preferred daytime and evening viewing schedule as well as getting into order any other things he may have to do that day – no one could argue that this man is not good at multi-tasking!
Once completed this ritual is closely followed by another.

Breakfast consists in the first instance of coffee – it comes scalding hot, strong, black and sweet, water heated in the cup in the microwave – did I say sweet?. A slice of rye bread with butter and sometimes a few deli goods accompany, and all of course is chased down by another cigarette. After the first coffee a second usually follows, (by this time I can almost taste the sugary sweetness, mingled with cigarette smoke in the surrounding air) – and without fail there will also appear another cigarette, and then another…. :)

During the day my father migrates to and from this spot at regular intervals, to lunch, to read the paper, to look out of the window with his binoculars, to have dinner and so on. I have never observed him sitting for any length of time at the other end of the table. His habit of gravitating to his special spot reminds me of a bird coming home to roost. It really seems to be where he feels most ‘at home’.

This image is not for sale

Copyright Notice
© Marion Cullen
All rights reserved.


cancer survivor, dad, environmental portrait, father, marion cullen


  • jesika
    jesikaabout 4 years ago

    I think as we age, we become more fixed in our routines and rituals. Deviate even slightly and our day is thrown into chaos. I’m not at THAT stage yet (not quite LOL). My dad always had to know the time before he would have a cup of tea, too early & he had to wait, sometimes as little as 5 minutes!
    Your dad DOES look good, smart & tidy and obviously takes pride in his appearance. I’m not sure he’s happy at the camera stuck in his face…….

  • I would say, based on my own observations of other elderly people that I know well, that I agree with your assessment Jesika. Routine does become an important factor for some, (not all), it seems to add a sense of stability and perhaps even control over the aspects of their lives they are still able to have control over. Humans are, after all, creatures of habit and this perhaps just becomes more magnified as we get older and our world begins to shrink bit by bit.
    Always a pleasure to hear your thoughts, thank you!

    – Marion Cullen

  • AndyGii
    AndyGiiabout 4 years ago

    Fabulous portrait Marion and the accompanying words are something special.. You are obviously still the little girl who loves her Dad. As it should be.

  • It started out that way Andy, but after about the age of 5, and for a long, long time after, I was not that little girl. In fact I spent a great deal of my life in the past despising my father and leveling much blame, (more about that story accompanies the other image mentioned at right). It was having to deal with a great deal of stuff in my own personal journey and my father’s subsequent illness that made me realise that life is far to short to hold grudges. That’s not to say I make excuses for my father’s once really bad behaviour, but I (we) have found a way to move beyond it, & that little girl found her way back. For that I am grateful.
    And thanks so much, I really appreciate your very heartfelt words :)

    – Marion Cullen

  • Suellen Cook
    Suellen Cookabout 4 years ago

    A true testiment to your father, wonderful image, its so full of HIM!

  • Many thanks for your wonderful comment Suellen, I am thrilled the image carries itself even without the words.

    – Marion Cullen

  • Matt Bottos
    Matt Bottosabout 4 years ago

    This is so “extraordinarily” wonderful! There is something so familiar about it. I can just imagine hearing a ticking clock softly echo in the background! Love the old country nostalgic feel from the surrounding elements like the bakelite switches, the temperature gauge, etc.
    Best wishes for a speedy & full recovery for you dad.

  • If this image had sound you would indeed be hearing the faint ticking of that clock over the quiet buzz of his shaver. Everything in his home, inside and out, is uniquely him and I am thrilled that you feel it the way I get to see it.
    I am sincerely honored to have your appreciation Matt, and value your thoughts on this image.

    – Marion Cullen

  • My fathers house in the morning light – he refers to his as his ‘country house’. lol!

    – Marion Cullen

  • LindaR
    LindaRabout 4 years ago

    Marion ~ what a treat these artful glimpses into your father’s life ~ your writing of his story equals your photographic story ~ ever consider writing a book? you could and should…but back to this post ~ I clearly remember being touched and drawn in my your previous posts…this one here pulled me inside to seeing and sensing his life rituals ~ and yours as you observe too.
    I remember seeing my own of my family and the kind of security they gained in ritual and as a child how that comforted me as well. I could go on and on ~ so I will simply say these moments are a treasure of experience for me ~ thank you for sharing xxx

  • Joanne  Bradley
    Joanne Bradleyabout 4 years ago

    These insights into your father’s life are phenomenal Marion! I just love the clarity and capture of light you captured in this one! There is so much comfort in daily ritual and more so as we age….I find your portraits of him beautiful. He looks and sounds like quite a character and to me would be a delight to talk to and get to know…

  • lianne
    lianneabout 4 years ago

    Marion my dear friend – this is just a perfect follow up to your previous sublime image. But it is your heart which shows in this capture as much as the incredibly sensitive and exceptional “story” you offer to go with it, that make this a portrait for the ages really.Everything about it, is, of course, perfect in the technical sense but what you bring to this piece is something few others could add – the sense that this is taken with the complex camera of the heart. xoxox

  • LoveWitness
    LoveWitnessabout 4 years ago

    fantastic! i could picture my own grandfather’s morning rituals but he did not smoke… there is a stability in rituals…

  • Bunny Clarke
    Bunny Clarkeabout 4 years ago

    What a wonderful capture. I think this shows so much about your father and how you viewed him too. Superbly done.

    JUSTARTabout 4 years ago

    great shot

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