Street Photography - "Joe"

Mitchell Tillison

Albuquerque, United States

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Wall Art

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Artist's Description

At his request, I am not using his real name. I saw him sitting on a retaining wall on a residential street in Albuquerque and knew I wanted to meet and photograph him. I did a u-turn and pulled alongside. He was wary, at first, but when he did accept my motives his words came in a torrent. He told me he has been taking daily walks for more than 5 months, starting out modestly but now ranging up to 10 miles per day of a run/walk regimen that has melted away more than 60 pounds. He was justifiably very proud of the accomplishment after a basically sedentary lifestyle of more than 60 years. He is 63 and has become steadily more healthy since a near-death experience from asthma and the onset of COPD, in which his smoking triggered a coughing fit that resulted in the total stricture of his airway. He knew he was about to die and asked God to heal him, promising that he would quit smoking in return. His airway suddenly opened and he was able to breathe again. Doctors told him he was under constant threat and would get progressively more debilitated. Instead, he started his exercise regimen and has never felt better, for which he gives credit to God.

Joe and his wife were divorced 15 years ago but still live together as platonic roommates. After the divorce and absent the forced intimacy of a physical relationship their love blossomed and grew more steadfast, with deeper undercurrents. They have never been happier together and his strong love for her was evident in his voice and demeanor when he spoke of her. He would not reveal to me his last name and even as he agreed to let me take his photo and write this short narrative, he beseeched me to do nothing that might reveal his identity, in consideration of his wife, who by his description is an otherwise wonderful person who is gripped by unreasoning fear of things outside her direct control. As he explained it to me, abiding love is unconditional and accommodates all, even that which knows no reason. Even though it was obvious that Joe was extremely gladdened to have made a connection through this chance encounter, it was also obvious that there would be no opportunity for follow-up and that a second encounter would not be as welcome. I am humbled by his example, in relation to both his physical conditioning and his resolve to keep his wife as comfortable as possible, even at the complete sublimation of his own needs and desires.

Artwork Comments

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desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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