September 24, 2015  •  4 Comments

Perspective in photography refers to the dimension of objects and the spatial relationship between them. This definition of perspective leads me to the topic of nerd camp.

It was Summer School for the Gifted Child, nerd camp. That's where I met my oldest friend. We were eight years old, summer after 3rd grade. Sonji and I hit it off right away. We shared a love of Cheetos and Dr. Pepper, it was Texas, after all and until you're old enough to drink beer, you drink Dr. Pepper or iced tea, unsweetened of course. We were both shy nerds, only we were too young to know it, the nerd part, that is.

Nerd camp was fun! Well, relatively speaking, it was way more fun than the previous summer's Vacation Bible School where I learned to make Christian art with dried pasta and bird seed. I made a rooster. It was a Baptist Rhode Island Red. I defended my choice of subject matter to the babysitter/teacher saying there must have been a rooster present Easter morning to wake everyone up to see that Jesus had risen earlier than they had.

At nerd camp, we learned how to keep a checkbook. We wrote pretend checks paying pretend bills, subtracting them from the balance, watched the account dwindle. You know, all the fun stuff we lucky adults get to do all the time. We even learned how to reconcile the checking account to the pretend bank statement, something I should have paid more attention to, I suppose.

Sonji paid attention. I'm sure she can still balance her checkbook and keeps it reconciled monthly, not just when taxes are due. I didn't see her again until we started junior high school, we picked up where we had left off that summer four years previous. She's a sharp one, that Sonji. I learned to hang with smart people at a young age, hoping some of it would rub off. Whoever was in charge, put me in accelerated courses, English, Science and, egads! Math. "I'm the one that can't balance my checkbook," I wanted to yell, but I was still shy, so I screamed it inside my head and struggled with Algebra I and II and then Geometry, which I would not have made it through if it weren't for Sonji's help. Calculus was lurking around the corner and my fear of it forced me to speak up and tell the counselor that I simply did not belong in accelerated math, not then, not now, not ever.

Sonji's been in my thoughts a lot lately. We don't see each other often, she still lives in our hometown, Amarillo, but when we do, it's like it was that first day of school in 7th grade, we pick up right where we left off. She's still the same Sonji, brilliant, fun loving with the biggest heart and grin to match. But this time I visited her, she had some bad news. She's been diagnosed with Huntington's Chorea Disease. It's an inherited disease that causes the breakdown of the brain's nerve cells. Her dad died from it a few years ago at the age of 63. She knows what to expect.

What I expect is that she, like most of us who are not battling some rotten disease, will continue to struggle daily to stay alive. However, my brother, my only sibling, decided August 7, 2015 to cut his life short, he stopped struggling. 

His action spurred me to go home to my parents, then on to visit my nephew and his family in Arizona. I hadn't seen him in eight years, he has three children I had not yet met. My visit with Sonji rounded out the important trip. I've been wondering why it's taking me so long to find the perfect location to reopen my gallery and I just figured it out. 

I think to myself, if I thought math was hard, figuring out life is the ultimate mind twister. I can't get my head around the death of my brother, or why Sonji has to be stricken with this disease. I am learning to change my perspective in life and realize the importance of depth and dimension in friendships and the spatial relationships between them and family and me, perspective is what makes a great photograph and an equally great life.


Sonji Alexander Wilhelm(non-registered)
Wow, Kathleen... Our friendship has a way of helping me remember who I really am, and why I love being a writer/ editor, which I did professionally for 20+ years.
I remember in college, I planned to go pre-med, because my family said I had the brain for it, and to make a good living for myself. You and I took Freshman Biology, which was not my greatest moment. I'm not sure what you got, but I earned a C...
You and I also took a journalism class together and there were A's all around!! We also participated in a journalism/photography competition and won, and which reinforced what my true professional calling was to be.
Winning that competition reminded me of a compliment I got in 2nd grade from my teacher about something I'd written. I knew in 2nd grade what I wanted to be, but it took me until my Freshman year in college, to understand that being a doctor was not my dream.
I am so grateful for our friendship.
Suzanne Heitzman(non-registered)
Kathleen, I've been thinking about you so much and now I know why. This is hard news about your brother, hard to know what to feel, maybe hard to not feel guilty about what you feel. I'm sorry for your loss, to your parents, and to his children.

Terrible news about Sonji. I keep praying for a cure for these awful degenerative diseases but cure seems a long way off.

Take your time finding the new gallery. You'll know when it's right. Take care of yourself.

Bonnie MacLachlan(non-registered)
You are not only a gifted photographer, but a very talented writer as well. I admire your allowing us to see your vulnerable side. That is not easy. Interesting what life throws us and how we handle it. May I have some of that lemonade please?!!
Kathleen McFadden(non-registered)
Dearest Kathleen, What a beautiful piece you've written, sharing your heart with us readers. It touches my heart and your gentle hand holds mine as I, too, live this life: often hard, often confusing, often painful - but - sometimes good. You help me "see" and you help me "appreciate." I'm grateful for you and your pictures and words in my life.
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Come On OverCome On OverHatch, Utah
This fella was really curious about me and my camera. In fact, he invited me to come on over to his house to visit a while. The barbed wire stood in my way, so we exchanged pleasantries over the fence, like old neighbors.

Mamiya 645 120mm
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