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What does dedication mean? I created this project in 2009 to explore this question, and I found inspiring answers in the eyes and words of three strong individuals. The commonalities between the people portrayed in these portraits are that they are carers: this is something that they have not chosen, but through the unfortunate fate of someone they love they have dedicated their lives to care for this person. It is my hope, with this project, to shed light on their daily struggles, as well as their incredible strength and infinite dedication.
By Phil Kenyon
Whether they be 93 years or 5 years old
They are worth their weight in Gold
They are always there
It is because they care
It cannot be much unfairer
When you have to be a Carer
Carers give so much devotion
It is hardly surprising they show very strong emotion
Carers have to be strong loving and very kind
It is not surprising Carers have a stressful mind
In a day of caring 24/7
One minute’s peace is like being in heaven
In 1996 my wife’s M.S got worse and she spent three months in hospital with pressure sore in her bottom and this caused her contractions in her M.S and when she came home she had to have 24/7 care. At that time we did not have a washing machine and I was going to the laundrette over 12 times a week, some days she would get confused and say strange things, I found that a bit difficult but the physical side was not too bad, eventually I had a carer’s assessment. Twilight nurses were a great comfort and a connection with the outside world, as a carer you have to be multi-tasking.
In late 2000 my mother was diagnosed with Atrial Mxyoma, that’s a tumour in the heart. Doctors had given her one month to live, she was in a home and required 24/7 care. I came home on holidays from Toronto and decided to bring her back home.
My mum also has severe hearing and memory loss, she outlived my father who passed away 4 years ago. We have lots of fun times together; a moment doesn’t go by without a hug or a kiss saying ‘I love you’ throughout the day. She is my labour of love and shares my sense of humour.
As the song goes,‘when you are laughing, when you are smiling, the whole world laughs and smiles with you’.
I am a carer and look after my husband who was diagnosed with the disease MS (Multiple Schlerosis) when he was 28 years of age. He is now 76 but managed to work until he was 58. His mobility has decreased during these years and his movements are now dependent upon a wheelchair, stroller, a stair lift and a battery-operated scooter. AND ME.
Roy could in no way live on his own so relies on my help for most things. For example, over the past 3 years I have showered, washed and dressed him every day, cooked his meals, done his laundry, helped to lift his feet when he cannot move, tucked him into bed at night and looked after him in the best way that I am able. To put it in a nutshell, just keeping the wheels turning.
Caring can be a lonely, frustrating, thankless job but we both approach Roy’s illness and its ramifications with love, strength, patience, a lot of humour, seeing our glass half full, not half empty and just doing what needs to be done and coping with what life throws our way.
Samantha Harvey is currently studying an MA in Photography at Central Saint Martins in London, and working as Gallery Assistant at Serpentine Galleries. Her main goal is to define and improve her craft as a professional photographer, and to continue creating meaningful and socially challenging work.