R.S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Author: R.S. Williams (page 1 of 65)

Caturday: 7/21/18

“Toes: Breakfast of Champions”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2017
Model: Moo

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Friday Photo: 7/20/18

“Self-Portrait with Porous Concrete”
Kansas City, Missouri – 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 7/18/18

“Whitley, with Yellow Cherry Tomatoes”
Heard County, Georgia – 2017

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Hillside Monday: 7/16/18

“For Wes, Part 1”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2017

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Caturday: 7/14/18

“The HR Director Wants to See You”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2016
Model: Nooz (aka Tennessee)

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On Returning from Maryland

As of 5:42 this morning, I was physically home from Maryland. Never have I cried so hard at a memorial service as I did on Tuesday, at my friend John “Mac” McNamara’s funeral. A thousand thanks to all of you who’ve helped me make this pilgrimage of sorrow, of loss, of gratitude, of goodbyes.

Despite having come there because of tremendous heartbreak, I did not want to leave Maryland. Emotionally, I’m still there. I can’t explain why. My intuition told me to stay: “Don’t go just yet. You’re not done here.” We shall see.

For the rest of my days, forever, I will be grateful to John. His kindness and encouragement that late March afternoon 16 years ago literally saved my life. When death felt like the only thing that would stop my suffering, John appeared almost out of nowhere to challenge that notion. He was the first person to suggest I write about my father’s 1997 murder—that I had not just a story, but a story that I told as no one else could. His words have buoyed me for almost two decades.

In the weeks since John’s murder, I’ve made almost no new photos. I’ve written hardly any new words. Words fail me, as does my sense of what makes a powerful image. At least I know this is normal. It’s how grief and trauma work.

But on the way to Maryland, at the Virginia state line rest stop, I did finally snap an image that fits the entire trip. This dead butterfly lay beautiful and broken next to the sidewalk for no apparent reason. The sight made me sob like a little kid.

Dearest Johnny Mac:
Thank you, sweet friend.
You are the reason I am still here.
You are the reason I am still telling my stories.
I will miss you forever.
I will see you on the other side.
And when I see you, I expect you to once again roast me for being a Boston Celtics fan. (I’ll be disappointed if you don’t.)

Always your friend,
Rachael

 

Friday Photo: 7/13/18

“Back Yard, Monday, 11:25am”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2015

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Wednesday Photo: 7/11/18

“Yellow Gladiolus at Sunset”
Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver, Colorado – 2014

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Hillside Monday: 7/9/18

“Sepia Storm Clouds”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2018

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Caturday: 7/7/18

“Caturday Gray”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2016
Model: Zora

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Friday Photo: 7/6/18

“Bass Fiddle, at Rest”
Nashville, Tennessee – 2015

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Wednesday Photo: 7/4/18

“Shore Erosion, Horace King Park”
Troup County, Georgia – 2014

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Hillside Monday: 7/2/18

“Cat Waiting, with Light and Shadow”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2016
Model: Smokey (2007 – Jan. 2018)

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For John

My friend, sportswriter and editor John “Mac” McNamara, was one of the five newspaper employees killed on June 28 in Annapolis, Maryland. He was 56.

When we met, I was living with friends in Atlanta. Depressed and broke, I had a dead-end cocktail waitress job at a Midtown bar. The long hours and the daily parade of new faces took the edge off the misery of almost, but not quite, making ends meet.

John was in Atlanta covering the University of Maryland Terrapins’ appearance in the 2002 NCAA Men’s Final Four. He stopped in for a burger before heading out to that evening’s game. It was a strangely slow afternoon, despite the Division I college sports tournament happening a few blocks away. In that cavernous bar, John was my only customer.

Which turned out just fine, since he was one of the most interesting people I have ever met. Not many of us can carry on a lively, intelligent conversation about literature, college and pro hoops, music, and journalism with someone they’ve just met—oh, and while they’re at it, also be funny as hell. But that was John.

He wound up spending maybe four or five hours at my bar. We talked the entire time, with me getting up now and then to check on my three other customers, or to pour him a fresh beer from the tap. When he left, he gave me his card and some parting wisdom.

I had a storyteller’s gift, John said. He hoped I’d write about my dad one day—that I’d tell the story of Daddy’s 1997 murder and the bizarre aftermath. “What happened to your father is horrible. It’s worse than heartbreaking. But you make it compelling. That’s a gift. Not everybody has it, but you do. If you ever decide to write about it, Rachael, I’d love to read it.”

Please forgive me, Johnny Mac.
Your words kept me afloat like no others have.

I had meant to finish the book before now.
So you could read it.
So you could see your name in the acknowledgements.
I’m so, so sorry.

For those of you looking to help or pay tribute to John, Rob, Wendi, Gerald, and Rebecca, the owner of the Annapolis Capital has set up a fund. The proceeds will help with funerals and other expenses, hospital bills, scholarships for victims’ kids, help for surviving coworkers as they recover, and so on. Another fundraiser for victims’ families, set up by a D.C.-area journalist, has raised double its original goal in just three days.

Although I met him just once, John McNamara’s kindness and sincere encouragement have stuck with me for almost two decades. For the rest of my days, I will remember him with gratitude—and with love.

Photo of John “Mac” McNamara via The Annapolis Capital
Post text: © R.S. Williams

Thanks, y’all!

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El Queso
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Dann Brown
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Charlie Bruin
Eric Woods

Val Williams
Gina Adamson-Taylor
Steve Taylor
T. Westgate

These folks’ monthly contributions help me produce more of the stuff they enjoy. They get my original photos, short stories, and creative nonfiction series not published anywhere else. Thanks again, y’all!

You, too, can help support my work. Even $1 a month earns you special patrons-only content. Find out more on my Patreon page.

Photo: “Self-Portrait with Red and Black” (2015)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Caturday: 6/30/18

“Tabby Cat with Pink Polka Dots”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2018
Model: Clark

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Friday Photo: 6/29/18

“Mosaic Bluebird, KCMO”
Kansas City, Missouri – 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 6/27/18

“Peach Crush”
Kansas City, Missouri – 2017

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Hillside Monday: 6/25/18

“Sky on Fire, Hillside”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2016

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Caturday: 6/23/18

“Brothers Make Great Pillows”
LaGrange, Georgia – 2014
Models: Otis (flame-point), Sherwin (white/orange tabby), and Joy (gray tabby tail, top center; 1999-2015)

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