In September 2014 I attended the 66th annual Missouri Photo Workshop in Platte City, Missouri, where emerging documentary photographers work alongside veteran editors and photographers in documenting small town America. We had one week to find, shoot, and edit the story of one person in town. I found Connie.
Connie Williams and her husband Richard have lived in a little house in Platte City, Missouri for 33 years. With her husband in poor health, Connie, 65, has never made close friends. Richard, 71, suffered from PTSD after the Vietnam War and later developed diabetes as a result of his exposure to Agent Orange. In November 2013 Richard broke his hip and was moved into a nursing home. He now faces the amputation of his second leg. Over time Connie turned from wife to main caretaker, left only with the company of her beloved dogs and birds. Occasionally Connie's son Pat, 39, and her granddaughter, Emmy, 6, visit her from Kansas.
The last few years have become more difficult as Richard’s health deteriorated, creating financial worries as well. Connie's animals comfort her and remind her of the life she once has with Richard. She believes that much depends on your perspective in life and she remains positive. Lately she has turned to the Japanese healing practice or Reiki to cope with her stress and exhaustion.
Post scriptum: Richard died unexpectedly the day after I left town. Connie's son told me later how changed, he felt, his mother was during the week I spent with her, as my questions allowed her to relive the happy times she had had with Richard. I was moved to hear this but much more it brought home to be the power of documentary photography which is the power of attention.