In my 77 years of existence, I have had the fortune to have been first engendered, then nurtured, surrounded, influenced, educated, pushed, nagged and sometimes punished by women of strong character, and upright morals.
My mother had the audacity to tell me, when I was 21, that she had always loved me because mothers always loved their children. She added that she had never liked me. She then explained that somehow she thought I had changed. She was beginning to like me. She often repeated and she did then, “You will never understand because you will never be a mother.” By the time I figured that I should have answered, “ You will never understand because you will never be a father,” she was dead.
To my regret I never indicated to her enough that I loved her very much and that other love of my life, my Rosemary (she and Filomena got along beautifully) has often mentioned how unkind I was to her.
Since then I have done my best, with frequent slip ups, to compensate for my ill-treatment of my mother by being as nice as I can to all the women of my life.
For many years, after the death of my father (I was 21), the only male in my company was a male cat, here or there. I have two daughters and two granddaughters. They all have strong character and rarely put up with my shenanigans.
In my life as a photographer, a good and efficient magazine photographer, my strong-willed grandmother, Lolita, finally got her wish and I will now admit that she may have been right. I am now also an artist.
The various women I have known sentimentally I still love them all. Perhaps Rosemary understands this. When I play Astor Piazzolla she knows and becomes sombre and leaves the room. She knows I am elsewhere in my thoughts and memories.
In this photographic career I have photographed great female actors, politicians, film directors, architects, a couple of prostitutes, models, teachers, dancers, singers, musicians, scientists, writers, poets, executives, one dominatrix, and especially women who made it a living to take their clothes off. The latter had infinite patience as I slowly gained experience on how to make them look their best.
All, all of them, every single one of them, taught me in some way or another something of myself while gently coaxing me on how to practice my craft. I learned to never make any of my subjects do something I would not do. I learned that any woman facing my camera had to be in complete control.
And if I am writing this without too many worries in my life it has to be that my Rosemary inherited from both my mother and grandmother a spirit of adventure, a willingness to take chances and to know how to handle money and understand interest rates and other financial matters that escape me.
And it was Rosemary who when we got married in Mexico City,would serve me a heaping plate of good food (when she used to cook!) but hers was almost empty. I was too stupid to realize money was short.
Today Sunday we will have breakfast in bed with our New York Times, not because it is International Women’s Day but because we do this seven days of the week for the last 20 years.
To the women of my life I owe it.
Originally published at http://blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.