I’ve been thinking about doing this project for over a year now, and with some time this spring and summer I thought it would be a good idea to get the “Purple Frames” off the ground.
Before my dad passed away in early 2014 from complications due to treatment of pancreatic cancer, he gave me a list of places he was unable to get to in a physical form with the simple instructions:
“Go. You may want to go with your mom and brother, or go alone. But go. And look and listen for me. I will be there.“
This project isn’t just for my dad. This project is for anyone who has ever lost a friend or loved one, and sees that person or their spirit reflected in the beauty of the natural world- in the sunrise, oceans, mountaintops, old trees, and sunsets.
The purpose of the Purple Frames Project is to create a series of photo essays documenting the places my dad couldn’t get to and the journey to find him there as a fundraiser for pancreatic cancer research and outreach. Photos from these series will be available to order throughout this project, and sold matted with purple frames- the color associated with pancreatic cancer awareness- with proceeds donated to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (www.pancan.org).
Please fill out the form at the bottom of this page for more information regarding ordering photos.
About the Purple Frames Project:
In early 2013 my dad, Gregg, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer less than 9 months after his retirement. He was 63, and one of the most active, healthy retirees out there- hiking, skiing, travelling to see family and friends, and beginning to deepen his Buddhist practice.
Within 2 weeks of his diagnosis Dad underwent a Whipple procedure at the Oregon Health and Science University- a surgery which removes the tumor from the pancreas, parts of other organs, and delicately reconstructs much of the gastro-intestinal tract. The 12+ hour procedure went as well as we could have hoped, and a few weeks later he was home from the hospital.
The recovery process was a rollercoaster, to say the least. By late summer Dad was able to regain some level of activity, even escaping away to the Pacific Ocean to “meditate at the edge of the water, and feel the strength of the sea and sand there for me” (his words). Despite the seemingly upward trajectory of Dad’s recovery, by early fall he was hospitalized again with complications due to chemotherapy which would eventually be terminal. Having spent most of his career as a hospital chaplain, Dad knew that when it was his time to pass on he did not want to be in a hospital, rather at home surrounded by loved ones. On January 3rd, 2014, my dad passed away in his sleep at the age of 64.
In the time between his return home from the hospital and his passing, I asked Dad for a list of places he had wanted to explore, but barring a miracle would not be able to visit in a physical form. It took him a few days to think about this, but he gave me an incomplete list with the simple instruction to go and look for his presence in the natural world.
I am beginning this project in Minnesota- where my dad grew up exploring areas between the Twin Cities and the shores of Lake Superior. This journey will take us (myself, dog, my mom and brother when they can) from Minnesota to the Pacific coastline- not to a specific place, but as he suggested “…some of hundreds of places along the coast.” I know his favorites, but there are still more.
Dad’s list included a few specific places; high on Mt. Hood, the North Cascades and Olympic mountains, Steens Mountain in the spring. Eventually on the list is filling his dreams of visiting Plum Village, France (home of Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s ministry) and the Himalaya.
I see this entire project as an effort with no set destination or end, but many stops along the way… and I hope you will join.