About the Book
Bernice Patterson was my Great Aunt. She died in the spring of 2008 at the age of ninety four, after nearly a decade with Alzheimer’s Disease. I began this project as an attempt to understand Bernice, a relative I’d hardly known, and to portray a glimmer of perseverance which remained as she lost all traces of memory, personality, and control. When I began making portraits of Bernice half a year before she died, she would often perk up, look at me with a smile, and touch the camera with childlike fascination. Several times she sang fragments of old time songs, as if being photographed made her feel like the star of a musical. I took this as a sign of her consent to the project, and a sense of propriety remained while photographing her through the months of steady decline, until the last images were taken hours before her death.