• Ash Syms

Connections of the Heart

This is my Grandfather.

He 86 years old and he has dementia.

He doesn't remember my name or who I am anymore but I can tell he knows I'm familiar. A good kind of familiar. A comfortable kind of familiar.

He always reaches for my hand to hold, to feel a connection.

In his eyes, I search.

I want to see if he still remembers all the adventures we had. The hours of kite flying on our farm. The making of delicate Christmas tree decorations tied perfectly with silver and gold ribbon. The drawings of boats and seascapes we pencilled together. My Grandfather was a brilliant artist - a love we both share.

Now when we visit the rest home where he is cared for he asks all of my children's names, studies each of them intently and a broad smile follows.

He seems to have a special connection with my four year old. I think the two of them relate well because my son is able to enter into his world. Laugh with him. Cry with him. Live for the now like only a child knows how to do. Luca is too young to try and look for the lost person. The person my Grandfather once was.

I've come to realise that this stage of my Grandfather’s life is just not compatible with language and this is perhaps another reason these two get on so well. Because in this raw moment it is all about emotion. Nothing more, nothing less.

And emotion is a language any human, at any stage of life understands.




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Ash Syms is a photographic artist. Her style is emotive, raw and inspired by the beauty of life and documenting the ordinary everyday. She specialises in families and newborns.

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