My Mother’s Dolls

My Mother’s Dolls

Forgiveness and Compassion

My mother’s birthday is around the corner, and I am ironing nametags onto the various stuffed animals I have chosen for her. I run the hot silver plate over the back of a stuffed grey and black kitty, sealing my mother’s name onto his back, making it hers. My mother loves her stuffed animals. They are her companions, keeping her company and bringing her comfort during the day and late at night.

My mother is in a wheelchair, brain damaged from her second husband’s abuse. She cannot pick up the phone when she is feeling lonely to hear a familiar voice. Or take a walk in the neighborhood, listening to birds singing. Reading a book isn’t an option. She can’t reach out for a dog or cat to pet. Yet she manages to smile at the littlest things, like her dolls. Small reassuring beings, friends in quiet moments.

I have been a participant observer, documenting my mother’s nearly adult lifetime confinement to a nursing home after a brutal beating by her second husband.

http://hannahkozak.com/he-threw-the-last-punch-too-har/

My mother is the longest living resident in her home for the aged. When she entered the home, we had run out of options. I understood her anger. I’d be pissed, too, if I ended up crippled, but the women taking care of her couldn’t handle her explosions from frustration. My mother was a passionate brunette from Guatemala who used to dance the Flamenco. My uncle told me men would throw their wallets at her. Today she is incapacitated to the point where she cannot walk, feed or clothe herself.

This is Part One of the series, My Mother’s Dolls.

These photos are a continuation of that series; He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard, which began in December 2009. I am focusing here on the comfort objects that allow my mother to get through the day, nurturing and loving dolls that stand in for the life she lost.

My mother's new dolls for Mother's Day 2014

My mother’s new dolls for Mother’s Day 2014

My mother in Guatemala.

My mother in Guatemala.

@ hannah kozak

Olivia, her favorite

@ hannah kozak

The Snowman

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

Another favorite – doll I brought her from Antigua, Guatemala.

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

My mother and MJ Thriller doll

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

As a bittersweet sidenote, I was awarded the Julia Margaret Cameron Award, 6th Edition, 1st Prize – single Documentary photo from my series on my mother, He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard.

That project also made it to the finalists for the CDS/Honickman, Duke University 1st Book Prize in Photography 2014.

http://firstbookprizephoto.com/hannah-kozak-2014-finalist/

My Mother’s Dolls

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About hannahkozak

I am passionate about photography & have been making photos since I was a little girl. I have been a stunt woman for twenty five years. I have a passion for exploration, discovery, and escape. I dream of every place I seek to travel to. A recovering adrenaline junkie, I seek authenticity in everyday experiences. I love Kundalini Yoga,travel, books,writing and authentic, real experiences and people. I brake for squirrels. Que le vaya bien! View all posts by hannahkozak

2 responses to “My Mother’s Dolls

  • Jolanta Czajerek

    Moving pictures that grab for the heart … you gave my mother a doll with Thriller … hug her from Jolanta from distant Polish

  • georgie scarpato

    Although I’ve seen some of these photos before and know of your dear Mother’s story, I still feel as I’m seeing and reading this part of your journey for the first time. You, my friend, are an amazing photographer and keeper of life….through the written word. You touch my heart, always!!!

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