My 93-year-old grandmother, Jeanne Samuels, lives a fully independent life.
However, she faced a serious challenge to her independence in early 2017
after falling in her kitchen and breaking her right patella. Following surgery,
doctors sent her to a residential rehab facility to aid the healing process.
The day after surgery, I discussed my grandmother's situation with a friend,
who recently moved her own ailing father into Seven Acres Jewish Senior
Care Services, the rehab where my grandmother was headed. This friend
warned me that many seniors who enter rehab suffer from isolation and
depression to the extent that they stay, and ultimately die, there.
I relayed this concern to family. We agreed to be at my grandmother's side
whenever possible to ensure that she would make it back home. We had an
upcoming family wedding in New Orleans 33 days after my grandmother's
surgery. Her goal was to be at the wedding. She achieved that goal.
I visited my grandmother most days in rehab. She allowed me to photograph
the entire journey, from her initial trip to the E.R., to the day she drove herself
back to work. This book presents a timeline of her journey. The project is
collaboration between my grandmother and myself.
My choice of medium, analog film, plays a roll in the story this project tells.
Time moves slow for rehab patients. Every step demands concentration and
commitment. Shooting and processing my own film for this project became
a way for me to express empathy and solidarity with my grandmother as
she rose from her fall and regained her independence.