My friend Wally died last week. You've seen his work -- the beautiful images of Paris that hang above my mantel are by Wally. And my personal collection holds many favorites from this well-loved and respected photographer who focused on European images.
And, as you might expect, it takes a chunk out of a person to know there will be no more lunches, photo shoots, good talks about photography or travel with someone you just plain like and have known for a very long time.
We read it in the obituaries on Sunday. Rick found it first and said, "You're not going to like this." I didn't. Later in the day I heard from friends who were doing the notification thing with information about the service. The calls and emails you need to get, that you hate to get.
Yesterday, the day after, I was in such a funk. A glorious day, low 70s, blue sky, sun blazing. And I couldn't get that first bit of mojo going. "What would Wally do?" I asked myself. And I thought about it.
He would say, "Go take pictures."
And so I did. I went over to Michigan State's gardens, a place I'd often done photography with Wally and other photo friends. Those are the photos you see here. The tulips and daffs were going full strength, the magnolias still laden with blooms.
And everywhere, gaggles of geese, seemingly oblivious to those passing by. They are no doubt used to a crowd -- and who is going to crowd Mother Goose?
I saw at least six families. There may have been more closer to the water, where the view was blocked. You could tell by the sizes they were from various hatchings, some clearly older than the others.
I thought about Wally and camera club field trips. There was a notable one to Traverse City where we stayed in world's worst motel. The rooms were small and, as one of our group of four said, "It smells like someone died in here." Another noted the rooms were so badly designed that "only one person can watch TV at a time."
There was a camera club field trip to Boston where we hunkered down at a seafood restaurant after a day of shooting. Loads of visits to Wally's studio, especially during his annual holiday open house, where his wife, Carolyn, and my dad would sit at the treat table as the rest of us shopped. There were Christmas dinners at my house. And parties for my cover photographer friends.
I met Wally when I started working at WKAR, where he often did covers for our monthly magazine (though I was familiar with his work from before, as well as the art fairs that took him around the country). He probably held the record for "Fine Tuning" covers. We tried to select an image that fit a program airing that month -- and PBS aired a lot of programs set in Europe!
Wally invited me to speak to his photography classes at the community college and through that I met our friend Cheryl, who started the Cork Poppers. He was generous in his introductions. He was no "cover hog." I probably met 90 percent of our cover artists through Wally or his classes.
He was one of the most steady and constant visitors to my annual art sale and a wonderful buyer as well. I don't think they were "mercy buys" either. He seemed to genuinely like what I did, and when I got a compliment from Wally on photography, especially, I was over the moon. That's like Julia praising your boeuf bourguginon.
Wally's death was no surprise -- only the timing. We knew he had cancer, that he had it for some time and that it had metastasized. He'd answer questions about it if asked but he didn't dwell on his health. In fact, if you didn't know, you wouldn't know about his illness from Wally. Upbeat, positive, patient, interested in the world and other people. That was Wally. And, it is one reason why it was a shock to hear that news.
Covid kept us apart in recent months. Just the other day, on my way to Kate's, I passed by the street that leads by Wally's house. I even said aloud, "Gotta call Wally so we can go get lunch!" Little did I know it was already too late.
All the flowers in the garden have their seasons. They bloom, bringing wild bursts of color, energy and life into the world, boosting our spirits, lifting our hearts and giving us joy. And then, the petals fall and we are left with beautiful memories.
Wally was one of the grandest of these blooms -- and I will hold close to those many memories that will make me smile.
Sharing with: Pink Saturday