I work with a man named Dean Wirick, he is a husband, father, son, uncle, grandfather, man of faith, an amazing worker both at work and home and one of the best photographers I have had the luxury of knowing. . His love for his family, friends, animals and all of the human race is beyond inspiring.
I started this blog as a journey to finding me, losing weight and just becoming a healthier happier person. I want it to be so much more, I want people to read it and come away with a smile, maybe a tear occasionally and perhaps a different way of looking at other people and things. Part of that healing and growing is for me to be inspired and I want to start sharing some of these amazing people with you… Dean is my first and he has graciously allowed me to share some of his photos, I wish I could share them all, I am including the paragraph he shares with the pictures. This is a man who works many many MANY weeks of 60 plus hours and yet he eeks out time for his family and to take pictures. He not only takes the photo but he takes the time to sit and talk and genuinely show interest in his model. I hope he writes a book one day and shares it with others. He is an inspiration bar none.
He took this amazing photo of a Native American woman dancing at a local Pow Wow. She had her walker and she stood tall and proud to dance her traditional dance. I was so tickled to have captured her proud, indomitable spirit. She inspired me.
Probably my favorite photos taken by Dean are what he titled Urban Grunge… One day I hope my daughter and I can tag along with him on one of excursions, I want to talk to these wonderful people, hear their stories and just listen to them.
.This citizen of this homeless community was a Desert Storm veteran. He has fought for the freedom of the Iraqi people and now he struggles with his own freedom. He was very kind and humble to me while we spoke. I walked away with an admiration for his strength and a profound sadness for his struggles.I was in town again today taking pictures on the other side of town and this fellow walked up to me and shook my hand. He had recognized me from the week before. We talked awhile about the fact that he has been sixteen months sober. What a wonderfulaccomplishment. He is also quite active in shelter programs for women and children. This is while he is living in a tent in this place. I was very humbled by his strength and compassion for others. What a wonderful man trapped in the same conditions as those he strives to make a better life for. I truly look up to him
Dean has a way of talking to people, both with his voice as well as his look and spirit. I love these shots he took of our veterans…
This hero was a Lieutenant in the Vietnam War. He was very stoic to the point of being gruff. At first he reluctantly talked to me, but soon he was sharing with me his story. He served during 1967 – 68 and was involved in the Battle of Prek Klok. His unit was nearly wiped out and he lost many close friends. He looked at me in the eye and said, “it still hurts…..” Then he closed off. I put my left hand on his shoulder and held out my right hand. He looked it my hand for a few seconds before reaching out to shake it. I put my face in front of his and said, “Thank you so much for your service, I truly mean it.” After looking at me for a while he said, “you are so welcomed, Thank you…” and a tear spilled onto his cheek. These brave heroes are people too.
This hero is 93 years old. We talked at length about his serving in the European theater in Italy and Tripoli. he described the building to building, room to room combat. He shared with me how he felt his entire time there. With eyes brimming over, he explained how He was terrified but a job had to be done. That is what courage is all about. Carrying on in the face of fear. His son, a Vietnam Veteran pulled me aside and explained how amazed he was. He said his dad never talked about the war…. never! He looked at me with a tear rolling down his cheek and said now he knows his father understands how he felt while he is in the jungles of Southeast Asia. I smiled as they walked away, son with his arm around his father’s shoulder.
There are so many more pictures I would love to share, each has their story but I am going to leave you with one last photo Dean took. His comments about the guy he took the picture of, the genuine care and love he showed this homeless man capture the essence of Dean Wirick perfectly. I am so proud to know him, to have someone of this caliber in my corner, Dean makes me a better person. I strive to take time to talk to people that others deem odd, I try to always smile and say hello to people others ignore. I hope he inspires you a little to do the same. Thank you Dean for being my friend.
As I walked by in downtown Portland, I noticed this kitty playing on the sidewalk in front of this young man. I approached him and sat down on the sidewalk across from him, crossed my legs and looked at him eye to eye. I smiled and he smiled. That is when I saw the little boy within the care worn street person. I asked him “How are you?” He said, tired….. I asked him to tell me about himself and he proceeded to tell me about his travels around the western United States by hopping the freight trains, living off the streets, dumpster diving, and at times fearing for his life. He told me of the abuse suffered from his father and how he ran away as a teenager. With a tear running down his cheek, he told me of how he is trying to get back home to San Diego so he can be with his mother in her last days. He talked about how lost he has been and how little of worth he was. I scooted forward, looking at him in the eyes and said, “Your worth far exceeds the sum of your experience and choices. You have intrinsic value. Your time past is but a series of lessons learned and your future can be as bright as you wish to make it. I truely hope you get everything you wish for because believe it or not, you do deserve it. You do have value!” By then his tears were flowing and he asked, “do you believe that?” I said, “I DO! Now you need and must believe it yourself”. That is when he wiped his eyes, really smiled and held his kitty up to his cheek and I took this image. That is when I truly saw the little boy with a small measure of hope for what the future brings. I hope he finds that little boy within himself and gives him a hug to let himself know that he is OK and it will be OK.