I was surprised at the compliment, and as I thought about it - I was honored.
On a vacation to Cape Cod with family, my cousins from Rhode Island stopped by for a glorious day. We sat at a little 'bistro' behind the main store (super foodie place called The Brown Jug in the town of Sandwich) and my cousin - okay my cousin's husband but he's just as family as blood - said "Shades of John," as I came in, "He was always carrying that camera around his neck."
Shades of John.
Let me tell you a little bit about my family. Myself and siblings were an Air Force family, always travelling but with strong roots to my mother's family in Dedham, Mass. We were the 'young' cousins, with many of our other cousins seven or more years older.
John was one of seven children (seven!!) in one of the Dedham families. Oh how I envied them all. They were all born there, went to school there and you "couldn't walk down the street without bump'n into a McNally." A nomad Air Force kid, it was the complete opposite of my life and I wanted it.
Anyway, John was part of the grown up cousins. He was super tall and thin, he had an aura of artistic and smarts, and I thought he was 'it.' He even took my sister and I to a Red Sox game in the bleachers - so he was beyond the best. Okay, except for the one cousin who lost total control of us at Fenway during an early morning walk - but that's another story.
John did, as I recall in my later years, always have that camera with him. These were the days of rolled film, dark rooms and black and white statement pieces. To this impressionable girl, he was the epitome of "Photographer," a complex blend of Irish humor, stubborn genes and philosophy. Leica was his brand of choice and the gadgets and gizmos on that camera enthralled me. John was at ease with it as much as I was mesmerized. It was an extension of his eyes and hands and handled the Leica with both care and familiarity.
John is no longer with us, but his image in my mind will always be of that tall cousin with the camera. And as I thought of Shades of John, I thought how we- he and I - have become alike in that manner. I am now the comfortable and confident one with my camera, and where people are in awe of the gizmos and gadgets I am now at home with it. I too take my camera anywhere 'just in case' there is something to capture and my family has come to expect me to walk far behind them as I stop for something my eye caught. The camera is now my extension of my eyes and hands.
Life takes you in different paths and sometimes it becomes a reflection of how you got from there to here. There are other influencers to where I am now, but this one - realized by a off the hand comment - has rushed to the forefront. I only wish I had John to talk to about those days and let him know that he made a life impression on a little girl.