Fotoeins Fotografie

faces of home & place-story

Posts tagged ‘family’

Ching Ming Festival, Chinese Memorial Day, Tombsweeping Day, Burnaby, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: not just Easter, but also Tomb Sweeping Day

It’s not just Easter. It’s also Ching Ming Festival (清明節), also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day, Chinese Memorial Day, or a Chinese version of All Souls Day. Typically occurring 15 days after the Spring Equinox on the Chinese (lunar) calendar, the day is a national holiday in China and Taiwan. In 2015, Ching Ming Festival is on 5 April, coincidental with Easter Sunday.

Mum and I have arrived one to two days late, as evidenced by the large number (and large sections) of graves newly adorned with fresh flowers. On this quiet afternoon with few other people around, we said “hi” to Dad, flipped the tall metallic urn right-side up, and inserted a new batch of flowers.

I made the photo above on 6 April 2015 in Burnaby, BC, Canada with the Canon 6D camera, EF 24-105 L zoom-lens, and the following settings: 1/320s, f/22, ISO2000, and 24mm focal length. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-6IM.


•   What’s the story?
•   Who is the woman at the centre?
•   Where do the lines lead? Do they support the story here?
•   What and why are the “exaggerated” colours chosen for the given setting?
•   Is the photographer a part of the scene, or have they accidentally come across the scene?
Sunset over the Salish Sea (English Bay), from St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada - 8 Aug 2014, fotoeins.com

His final sunset over the Salish Sea

Every day felt like a bonus, a sweet taste of daily magic.

Over the time he spent in the hospital, Dad charmed the staff by chatting with them in broken English; it was a way for him to express some measure of control. As expected with decreasing hemoglobin levels, his body continued the downward slide. His mind and spirit departed at the beginning of the third week; he had become unresponsive. Over the next five days, his body remained, the breathing steady, though shallow and sometimes laboured. He was calm, at peace, and thanks to the meds, without pain.

From the top of St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, I photographed this post-sunset scene on 8 August 2014, with fading light peeking up and over the cirrus, high over the Salish Sea (English Bay) and the downtown peninsula. I’m sure he sensed the daily change in light, even though he could no longer see by the end.

Hours later the following morning, Dad breathed his last and slipped away for good. He marked his 82nd birthday six weeks earlier.

The long road for him has ended; another chapter and another journey begins.


Warmest thanks to the staff at St. Paul’s Hospital, and particularly, the men and women who work enthusiastically and gracefully in the hospital’s Palliative Care Unit. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-5vy.

Vancouver: the forgotten’s fireworks from St. Paul’s

2 August 2014.

I’m in one of the city’s hospitals, visiting my father who’s in very bad shape.

I’ve helped feed him dinner of roast pork, peas, and gravy, a direct sensory reminder of his past as ‘line cook’ in a downtown diner nearby. He eats with great enthusiasm, the most I’ve seen him eat in weeks. Dinner’s done, and he’s worn out. I suggest we go “around the corner” with him in a wheelchair to watch the evening’s fireworks, but he gently declines. A twinge reflects the growing reality of him never seeing fireworks again, but the feeling is moderated by resolved acceptance and mild resignation.

I go out into the corridor where people have already gathered by the windows next to the elevators. From the heights of the hospital, there are spectacular views of the downtown peninsula, towards Burrard Inlet, English Bay, and the waters of the Salish Sea. What sacred spirits have come and gone, then and the now.

Waiting patiently to catch a brief glimpse of fireworks are other hospital patients, their family, and various hospital staff taking breaks in their work schedule. It’s a four-day holiday weekend here in the province of British Columbia, and early August weather is summertime hot under the dome of clear blue skies.

Judging by the look in some people’s eyes, I empathize with feelings which must remain unspoken: “I’d rather be outside, laughing and having a good time, surrounded by family and friends.”

I thought about making a few photographs of the fireworks through the large windows, but something pulls me back, and I decide not to image the fireworks directly.

My thinking about this situation quickly clarifies. What I’ll do is record people watching the fireworks through the windows of the hospital’s upper floors.

They are not forgotten. It’s my promise to capture with a camera’s all-seeing eye an elemental and universal desire for something beyond the ephemeral and temporal, something that approaches a kind of eternity.

( Click here for images )

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