My grandmother Dimitra Enen, née Kafetsopoulos was born in Lavrio, Greece on October 10th, 1901. She was the only child of Stamatiki and Vasilis Kafetsopoulos. As Stamatiki and Vasilis adored their beautiful daughter they purchased a camera when she was about five or six years old to capture moments in her childhood. Often Vasilis used his camera to make portraits of his daughter. Some of these photographs are spontaneous while others were staged scenes of her alone or with her friends. Over time Vasilis gradually chronicled my grandmother’s life in a unique series of portraits.
As the years went by, Dimitra got married, got a child of her own, a son, and, eventually a grandson – me. When my parents left to seek better opportunities in Germany, my grandmother Dimitra took over the challenging task of raising me. As a well-educated, mature, and elegant woman in her early sixties and was able to pave a good path for me. She took care of my pre-school education, focused on the details of my youthful behavior, and she did not miss the opportunity to prepare me for my adult life.
It happened in 1991-2 that I saw my grandmother grew physically weaker and mentally less capable. Inspired by my great-grandfather’s early pictures, I started capturing Dimitra’s final days. When you are young, dying seems dramatic, sad and shocking. It is the realization that someone you love is leaving forever. Dimitra’s death would mark the end of my childhood. Years later, I understood that photographing her helped me, my family and our friends to ease the loss. The photographs were memories of Dimitra and my roots.
Or, as Vamik Volkan, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, wrote in the foreword to this book: “As photographs in this book demonstrate the reality of aging, they also illustrate the constancy of love and affection. The truth is, love remains, even with the passing of time.”