About :Outsoaring The Shadow Of Night

Ian and Tanya (at 14 years old )in The Kruger National Park in South Africa

Dr Ian Michael Harris                                      (* Photo by Peter Harris)

Ian and Tanya (at 6 years old) in Port Elizabeth, South Africa


I am so blessed to have had this sweet, wonderful and loving stepfather, Dr. Ian Michael Harris, sent to me by the universe. I could never have asked for a more kind,gentle, patient, smart and loving father than him. He gave such a presence to my life that can never be replaced by anyone else ever.The day I met Ian at 2 years old I apparently asked him , " Why is your face so crinkely?" and then later on at a picnic he took with my Mom and I, I threw a rock at his head! It is amazing he continued to want anything to do with my Mom and I after that! At that time, I couldn't say" Ian" and I called him " Iya" or"Toktor". These are my own personal terms of endearment towards him that stuck throughout the rest of our lives together...

But really, he truly was a remarkable and wonderful Dad in every single way. He was the father to me that I never had until he came along. There is a huge hole in my life -and of course in my Mom's life since he passed away in February. My Mom and Ian just just celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary on Feb 20th, 2013. We are are very sad since his passing and will continue to feel this great loss... I feel so thankful, however, to have had him in my life from the age of 2-it seems like a long time...but then again, it seems like such a short time to have had such a remarkable man in my life...

Outsoaring The Shadow Of Night arose out of my attempts to deal with my grief after his death, and also out of a desire to honour him and the many gifts he gave me, not the least of which was the gift of Photography.  I have Ian to thank for igniting my interest and passion in photography. I would not be a photographer today if I had not had him in my life.( He gave me my first camera at 4 years old.) I have many happy memories of our times on Safari in South Africa where Ian and I would have a camera bag in the back seat of the car between us, bean bags propped on the backseat window sills,sharing and swapping lenses, while asking my Mom to drive backwards or forwards or turn the car around so we could get a better shot!But far more important than our shared interest in photography, I would not be the woman I am today without his love and amazing parenting.

I had this idea that I wanted to take long walks during which time I would take photographs and converse with my father, by releasing balloons on which I had written messages to him.I couldn't help doing that very painful thing we often do when someone we love has died, and berate myself for the"what if's" and think that I could have and should have done more to let him know just how much he meant to me. These balloons represent the conversations I wanted to have with him- the things left unsaid and done that I wished to clear up if possible.

I would like to note for the record that the photographs included here of the Flies,Bee, Owls, Ducks and Butterfly belong to Ian. He was very humble about his photography and his other accomplishments- but obviously he was a very talented photographer. I really liked the idea of having a conversation between my imagery and his imagery ( especially since photography was something we shared and loved together) and I know he would have liked the idea and given me the go ahead to do so...All the other photographs belong to me. 

Ian was an amazing, compassionate and special man and I just hope he knew how very much we all held him in the highest esteem. He was a wonderful father, husband, doctor, friend and a true,one- of -a -kind old fashioned gentleman. He was a great example to me in every way.

I was always in awe of his time spent as a missionary doctor and as a doctor in general . I cannot imagine how many lives he saved, healed and touched over his lifetime. He never sought out money as a doctor by going into private practice, but instead chose to work in the poorest areas and poorest hospitals where he could truly make a difference and I will always respect and remember that about him.

And what a mind! I don't think I will ever met anyone as smart and knowledgeable as him ever again. He knew so much about almost every subject imaginable. The running joke in our family was that you would go and ask Ian the time, and you would get a lecture on the inner workings of how the watch or clock worked! He was amazing all throughout my high school education and would spend hours helping me with my homework and explaining things to me...

Ian got diabetes in his 30's and struggled and fought against it for the rest of his life. He rarely complained- ever- but was known to his family and friends as the " walking medical miracle. " When he would check into the hospital there would be a few lines on the medical paperwork to accommodate " medical history" and instead Ian would just bring in the 5/6 typed pages of his history of operations/ medical issues and medications etc. ! He was so remarkably strong and resilient in the face of so many medical issues. 

You never think that the last time you see somebody could really be the "last" time. How important friendships and family are -and the importance of truly cultivating them! Never go to bed angry- never part ways angry and always take EVERY chance you have to tell your spouse/ boyfriend/ girlfriend/ parents/ family and friends that you love them. Also forget petty grievances and resentments. Life is far too short to hold grudges- forgive and love those who will hopefully turn around and forgive and love you....for none of us are perfect. Hold those close to you tightly. For ultimately none of us know how much time we will have on this earth. Don't wait until it's too late to tell those you love how much they mean to you.

May you rest in Peace, sweet father. You touched every person you met and positively impacted more lives than you can ever imagine. I picture you now walking through green forests with our beloved deceased dog, Vanya, sailing the oceans... or cycling the world unencumbered by a body that let you down in life.

I hope that from awful loss, we, as human beings, might learn the urgency to always dance through life, even through grief, tragedy, and sorrow.      

At the end of the day, love overpowers everything, and the memories of those we love can fuel our spirits and give us strength. At the very least, we owe it to ourselves to extract those things from suffering the loss of the people we love. 

-Tanya Linnegar, April 2013


To read the poetry associated with this work, please click on the following link: http://linnegarphotography.4ormat.com/poetry-out-soaring-the-shadow-of-night

To view the images for this work, please click on the following link: http://linnegarphotography.format.com/photos-out-soaring-the-shadow-of-night#1

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