Mar 19 2011

Walking with the Dead

Category: Daily Drivel,Memory LaneRandall Kelley @ 21:13

So with all the tragedy popping up, I guess I was just feeling like a bit of mourning without really knowing about it. We had discussed the graveyard where Bruce Lee is buried several times in the past. I just never ended up doing it, as there are many larger areas to go and shoot. Today, the sun was coming out and I was dying to get out and shoot, so I just opened google maps on my phone and looked at the parks. It struck me right away that we recently almost went to do this, and as I wasn’t sure of my stamina for anything bigger, it would be a good choice for today. Rita said she was game, and off we went.

We parked on the street and walked in, A real mix of newer stuff and a handful of older ones. I started by heading pretty much directly up the hill looking for Bruce Lee’s grave. A bit tricky to find, even with the directions I had read. Several people had written directions that put us in the vicinity, but several of them had obviously no sense of directions and so I resorted to looking at photos on line of the site and trying to match them. Problem was, the best shot had enough tall buildings in the background to look like it faced Seattle from the top of the hill. In actuality, the shot I was looking at was from when there was less foliage and it was the Bellevue skyline in the background.

So here’s the skinny, if you should ever decide to go. Enter from the Northeast entrance off of 15th. Walk directly up the hill to the flagpole. Once there look back down the hill toward where you came in and Bruce and Brandon are buried just off the edge of the roadway running North and South on the East side (far side as you look down the hill). And, if you stand there a few minutes, you’ll probably see other people making their way to it.

It was very moving as a fan to be there, and even more so seeing the tributes and tokens left and the same look on so many peoples faces as they came by. I know we tend to make to much of celebrity in this culture, but some people touch so many different lives in so many different ways, that it just leaves a trace of something in the world that people can share. And of course, the other event of today just hammers home how this is true on some scale with each and every one of us.

As we were in the graveyard, Rita received a friend confirmation on Facebook from Kurt. Knowing his condition, I felt that it was odd it would come through now. Then shortly, Rita saw a post appear on there telling of Kurt’s passing. We are quite sure it was his wife Lisa accepting the friend request to allow her to receive the news in a timely fashion. We are grateful for that.

I didn't yet know it when I shot it, but this was a tough moment for Rita, moments after hearing about Kurt lindsay's passing.

For those who don’t know Rita’s work history that well, She first got out of restaurant work in the early eighties by getting hired by Larry Stessin to be an assistant in a photography studio, “Photography Northwest”. Two of the photographers working there for Larry were Kurt Lindsay and Don Milgate. Later, as Larry got more into doing his own thing, and the guys felt the studio was not giving them what they wanted for their work, they split off and founded Lindsay Milgate Studios. Rita moved on to work with them. While grateful to Larry for the break, she was far closer to the guys and really wanted to help them get their business going.

Eventually, When the possibility of working full time at Metro came along, Rita had to choose. As Metro offered better benefits, retirement, and honestly a lot less emotional stress, she quit the studio and became a full time driver. It had honestly become too much of an emotional conflict to work for somebody and try to just be an employee when she felt so close and loved them so dearly. She kind of hoped when she quit that she could maintain a better friendship by not working there. But anyone who knows Kurt knows that he was not an easy person to know or love. Not that he wasn’t a good man, but like a lot of artist he carried a lot of conflict and had a lot of defenses. I think those who loved him were those who were able to love him FOR those qualities, not in spite of them.

Anyway, it had made Rita really happy to reconnect with Don recently through Facebook, but Don is a lot easier to communicate with, And when she was getting in touch she found Kurt was already suffering through trying to recover form cancer. She had been trying to arrange to visit him when he was taken back into the hospital here a few days ago. We went on Thursday and met Don and his wife Nancy to go and see him. He had just found out that it had spread to his liver, and he had only a couple of days to a couple of weeks left. Rita had a sad but meaningful visit. And I know she is grateful for having had the chance to say goodbye.

Anyway, that’s a brief summation of her history with Kurt. And of course all this is on the heels of learning of her sister Lucy’s and family struggling with her husband Jim’s recent diagnosis with cancer. Probably my scaring us to death again on Thursday night with a mad dash to the ER for a major allergy attack didn’t help. It seems we have spent the last couple of weeks surrounded by implicit references to our mortality, and that is never much fun.

But the thing is… You have to see it as a reason to cherish every moment you have. Try to share what you feel for people while you can. And never assume that you can wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow, you may be walking with the dead.

Todays full set posted HERE.

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