Monday, December 8, 2008

Acts of Love

Bud Belanger
1933-2008


"I think photography is an act of love."
~Jay Maisel

In the late 90's, Bud Belanger and I became great friends. It was a really fine friendship and brought many gifts and amazing lessons to both of us. Bud and his wife, Lynne, grabbed hold of my dream of photography right along with me, and were the hosts for my very first solo show. Bud would hire me to teach him cool things on his computer and without fail, I would leave our lessons have learned a thing or two myself.

Those lessons were often nothing short of amazing and courageous. One summer, nearly five years ago, Bud suffered a severe stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side. For a long time, it robbed Bud of a great passion of his - golf. And then one day, Bud called me and told me about a new golf cart he'd purchased, along with some new clubs. Bud, in his own unique and intrepid way, had found a way to play golf: one-handed. He could do it all...drive the cart, swing and hit the ball into forever and drive on to the next shot. About the only thing he needed help with was to tee up. He invited me along one late, cold winter day a few years back. I brought along a lightweight camera/single flash setup and off we went.

I walked, he drove. It was fun. It was fascinating, watching all that concentrated strength and focus. It was a completely unique skill. I was in awe. I was watching an act of love. I was watching a man following his passions, totally in love, completely unaware - no, unaccepting - that the odds were stacked against him.

Bud loved people. He was one of those guys who just had to connect with people. Since the stroke, he'd taken to handing out those little squeeze lights that fit onto key chains. People loved them and he handed them out like candy. Friends, family, kids, service people of all kinds, complete strangers. Hundreds of them passed hand to hand. I have my own little personal collection of them and they've saved me a few times in the dark with the camera. I stood up at his memorial service last week and told the bulging crowd that I like to think of him like that...squeeze him and so much light poured out that it lit up all the dark places.

And so it struck me, standing there, saying goodbye to an old dear friend with so many of his other friends, that this is what makes life so textured and complete...it's all these little acts of love in each of our days.

I miss you, my friend.

Nikon D2x, Nikkor 24-120VR, Nikon SB-800 Speedlight

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