August 16th, 1985, I was told my father had died in an accident. He drown in the Atlantic Ocean while we were living in Atlantic City. The event, as could be expected, was extremely traumatic for me and put me on a path that was unexpected and frightening. I have learned many things through the years and have been through anger, fear, grief, and the complete spectrum of emotion that surrounded me with this tragedy and loss.
Over many, many years (and a lot of introspection), I have come to embrace his death with acceptance and grace. I have shared quiet moments when I sense his presence. I have shared moments with friends when I’m reminded of the pain I still feel. The gift through it all is that, as I continue to move through life, there are many things that remind me of him.
Now that I am a father, I see more of him. I see how things he has done affected me and how things he has done affect my son through me. He continues to live through me in that way. I have seen things in my father I swore I would not repeat. I have also learned things from him, in the joyous moments, that I will share with my son and celebrate.
Through it all, there are many times when I still miss him. I miss who I wanted him to be; for me and for Nicholas. It’s those times that are the heaviest for me. Those times pull at my heart and soul and open up the ocean of sadness that I thought would be covered up by now by some mountain of healing and wisdom.
So this brings me to my photographs…When I see the ocean – When I hear it – When I smell it – it holds memory for me. It holds mystery, loss, power, pain, love, tenderness, oneness…
Recently, I was near the area where he died. I created these three photographs in memory of him – because I still love him…I always will.
In Memory of Frank G. Tapler Jr.