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Things to be Thankful For….

Nov 30

In Thoughts at 11:50pm

Anybody who knows me a little bit knows this is my favorite picture. Its my oldest daughter Caitlin, about six months old, trying to walk. She couldn’t quite get the hang of it right then, but trust me, she already knew walking was where it was at. She saw that people who could walk could get places faster, and she was definitely interested in that, even as a tyke. Heck with this crawlin’ shit! I’m gonna walk!

Wasn’t too long after this she indeed was walking, and very soon thereafter, running. She has pretty much lived her life (she’s 23 now) with the pedal to the metal.

Much to her old man’s consternation. She has had, well, a tumultuous early life, let’s put it that way. She pushed the envelope, her’s and mine, and we have had some tough, angry times. But its not all on her. (Never is, right?) I’ve been a here and there dad, being a roving photog. We used to use the term “magic daddy” sometimes when she was small. She would go to bed and I’d be there, and wake up, and I’d be gone. Or vice versa. Sometimes when I would be home, I really wasn’t. Tired or distracted, we’d snuggle for a bedtime story, and once, I just said, “You know, sweetie, dad’s so tired tonight I don’t think I can get through even one story.”

She reached over a tiny hand (she was about two) and patted me on the shoulder and said, “Don’t worry daddy, just do the best you can.”

I put alot on her, of course. Between being gone, and also kind of making her my daughter and my son. Got her scuba certified when she was 12. Took her on her first night dive three dives after her cert. Trust me, when the ocean gets inky black, it can freak even some experienced divers. She was unfazed, and fascinated.

She rode a horse like a bat outta hell. Coming back from camp, she allowed that she had won the competition where you stand on the horse’s back, barefoot, holding the reins. I didn’t really want to know. She once broke her arm snowboarding, and sawed off the cast after about a week cause it was “bothering her.”

She kind of just knows. She can sit at the tiller of a boat and know how to drive it. I let her drive my pickup on the NY State Thruway and points everywhere when she was 15. (Yes, its true. I’ll never be the cover subject of Parenting magazine.) I put both her and her sister Claire on a dog sled years ago for a joyride and Claire got seriously cold. Caity opened her jacket, untucked her shirt, took Claire’s boots off and stuck her sister’s feet next to her skin, and then just folded herself on top of Claire. She just knows.

She’s a pretty good grip. She can handle a c-stand and ratio a pack. She’s been to the Eddie Adams Workshop at least seven times. But she has no interest in photography. She kind of grew up in a photo hothouse. Her mom is the DOP of the New York Times. Her dad is, well, her dad. She has chosen a different path. Can’t say as I blame her.

But she’s a tough kid. Cool under pressure. She’d be good to have in the foxhole with you when the chips are down.

Two days before Turkey Day, she was leaving her boyfriend Ryan’s house early in the morning, and she hit black ice. Her car slid right off the roadside where there should be a guardrail and plunged down a 40′ ravine, rolling over twice. It came to rest upside down. Caity was left hanging in her seatbelt, also upside down, and covered in blood. She was lucky to still be conscious. There is no sight line from the road to the ravine, and no one saw her go over. She could have easily bled to death at the bottom.

She unbuckled her belt. And was collected enough to grab the oh shit handle above the passenger door and with both feet, bust out the passenger window. She clambered back up to road, still spilling blood everywhere. She doesn’t remember walking back to Ryan’s house.

At the hospital, she got 3 stitches in her hand. All her cranial wounds were left to close on their own. Cat scans were negative. She was stiff and sore, but told me she was thinking of going to work that day. Wiser heads prevailed.

As I told her tonight, maybe the best genetic gift I gave her was a hard head. I’m very thankful for that.

More tk….

132 Responses to “Things to be Thankful For….”

Andy Poupart says:

on December 1, 2008 at 11:37 pm

A chilling story with, I hope, a happy ending. I also have two teenage daughters, not quite old enough to drive yet. Driving is only one of the activities out in the world that I wish I could always be there to protect them. But I know that I can’t, of course. And probably shouldn’t even if I could. To be a parent is to worry, it’s how life is. Your story reminded me how much I have to be thankful for, most especially two healthy daughters. May yours go forward from here in health and happiness.

Ryan McBride says:

on December 2, 2008 at 12:01 am

moving story, and very moving photograph… thank goodness she is okay.. may her recovery be swift…

Jeff A says:

on December 2, 2008 at 1:41 am

Glad she is ok. I pray that she will have a speedy recovery.

Andy Colwell says:

on December 2, 2008 at 1:48 am

It cannot be said enough how fortunate she was and how relieving it is to have THAT ending out of all the other negative possibilities: as such, my best wishes for Caitlin to get back into the thick of things as quickly as she and her splendid family can manage. It touches deep how you have shared; I know personally that I will take every opportunity to wish love to those close to me, because there are not too many moments to do so in one’s life. From a family wrought with a few too many (one is too many, let alone three) of these sorts of occurrences, this is truly powerful and gripping – and written with love that is readily apparent. Take care.

dan says:

on December 2, 2008 at 2:03 am

thanks for sharing this. we all have our ups and downs and this post got me stoked on life again. merci.

David says:

on December 2, 2008 at 2:58 am

Joe, thanks for sharing this about you and your daughter. She is one tough cookie and you should be proud to have her as a daughter and I am sure that you are….

Stephen J. Zeller says:

on December 2, 2008 at 8:50 am


I’m glad to hear that Caitlin is doing well. Here’s to a quick recovery and I wish you and your family all the best.


Al DaValle says:

on December 2, 2008 at 11:05 am


Don’t beat yourself up too much for being an imperfect father. I am sure you did the best you could at that point in time in your life. We forget that young people aren’t perfectly finished products the minute we become parents. We too are works in progress. We all have regrets and we all make mistakes…some are big ones. What matters now is not that the mistakes happened but that we acknowledge them and then how we deal with them. We shouldn’t look back with a heart full of regrets. We must look forward with a heart full of hope and take comfort in the knowledge that you can write your own future as it relates to your relationship with your daughter. Take advantage of the time you have with her…now.

So there you go….unsolicited advice from an equally imperfect father.

By the way…I am looking forward to seeing you in Yellowstone this January.


Jim White says:

on December 2, 2008 at 2:14 pm


So happy to hear Caitlin is well and doing fine. I can recall when my son was with me in Hawaii at the age of 7. Never thought he’d make it to the age of 8 due to the constant accidents. It’s nice to know that our dear Lord looks out for our children.

Shutter Bitch says:

on December 2, 2008 at 4:26 pm

She sounds fearless. I’m really glad she’s okay. And I must say, you sure know how to tell a story, especially one that makes a fellow parent’s heart strings pull.

dave griffin says:

on December 2, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Hope she’s ok, my thoughts are with you.

Kind Regards


Michael says:

on December 2, 2008 at 7:26 pm

Amazing story Joe…I am glad to hear that Caitlin is okay and hope that her recovery is perfect.

Best Wishes,

ric woods says:

on December 2, 2008 at 8:00 pm

Sure is a happy ending.I spent 6 years painting murals at John Hunter Childrens Hospital,Newcastle Australia ( 6 months in the paediatric emergency dept) I love happy endings….so many are not…I love to hear gratitude….

Mike Bruckner says:

on December 2, 2008 at 10:14 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful and meaningful blog. I have learned so much just by seeing and reading. Your photos and thoughts show me how the humanity of the race is still the best thing going. It is so strong in the photographers I know. Several photographers that I talk to have gone through so much in the last 3 months. Car wrecks, back surgeries and just plain sick. Through it all I have seen the cream of our human nature shine. Sharing and caring in this wonderful community we call photography. I hope your daughter heals quickly and thanks for sharing.
Mike Bruckner

Denny Medley says:

on December 2, 2008 at 11:28 pm

Wow…your blog about your daughter Caitlin rings soo close to home. I’m very thankful that she’s going to be ok. As a dad with a daughter roughly the same age, I can only imagine what you and your wife must’ve gone through. (fortunately, my own daughter’s car mishaps have been minor). Thank God she’s ok, and I send my thoughts and prayers your way…

Brian Burke says:

on December 2, 2008 at 11:31 pm

That is one hell of a way to tell the story, dude. Shit, Joe . . . .

Glad to hear that Caity is o.k.

Ami says:

on December 3, 2008 at 4:46 am

Joe, I’d like to thank you again for your lecture/workshop today in Vancouver. I do not know how you managed to maintain such a humor with this weighing on your mind.
I wish her a quick recovery (and she seems to be doing that quite well)!

All the best,

Gary Thom says:

on December 3, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Got interrupted while leaving a message the other day, glad to hear she’s doing well. Keep up the great work.

Fayyaz Ahmed says:

on December 3, 2008 at 3:18 pm

May God bless her. I hope she gets well soon. Best wishes for you and your family.

Betty says:

on December 3, 2008 at 4:54 pm

I have a 23 year old too, I just hope she would be as together as your’s was after her accident. My prayers are with her for a speedy recovery.

Rene Hasprunar says:

on December 4, 2008 at 4:39 am

Hey Caity,

When i was 25 I rolled my car a brand new 2004 Pontiac Vibe. I only had if for about a month. It was the weirdest feeling one second going down a road at 50mph and next you are spinning like a helicopter propeller. I just closed my eyes and just wanted everything to stop.

Well it did and I was so glad. I felt no pain.. I opend my eyes turned off the engine and went to unbucle my seat belt. Next thing you know I fell to the ceiling of my new car. I then realized the car was upside down and I couldn’t open the drivers door. I ended up climbing in the back seat and one of the doors opened. It was the the scariest thing yet exciting thing I have ever felt. I really felt the meaning of being alive.

I could of died if the car turned one more or one less of a spin. I would of been crushed by a big boulder that destroyed the whole back of my Vibe. I am lucky to be here today, and I am lucky for every day,

I walked away with a couple of bruises and scratches.. An experience like this is an eye opener and a testament to the saying that “one day we are here and next day we are gone.

Enjoy your gift and treasure it for ever.



Thomas says:

on December 4, 2008 at 8:31 am

It might a bit too late to post this comment, but after reading your post, I just had to comment. So here goes….

That’s one heck of a post of a father describing his daughter’s life and his around the same. As a father of 2 daughters I fully understand and appreciate the nostalgic incidents that you have narrated in this post.

To have your daugther go through an accident is like someone putting a knife through your heart and I m so relieved that she’s fine and hence her dad’s fine too.

This post touched my heart and I really liked the way you have narrated her entire life till now around you…

Jack W Alexander says:

on December 4, 2008 at 11:09 am

With two daughters myself in the same age range (and it sounds like similar dispositions) I can empathize with you – of course really happy to hear she is ok. Definately something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. Best to you and your family.


Scott Slattery says:

on December 4, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Joe, Yes, babies bounce. You speak matter-of-factly about something all parents dread… I’m happy that Caitlin is doing well!

rob jaudon says:

on December 4, 2008 at 5:10 pm


This is touching. I am glad that everything is OK. Tough one you have there.
Thanks for the story and background. I can relate as I have two daughters of my own and I hope to be able to give them the traits you have given yours. You are an inspiration to me and I love to see things through your eyes.


Kuri says:

on December 4, 2008 at 6:35 pm

Joe, gled to know she’s allright, hope she recovers soon!
Wishing you and your family all the best and a safe and happy future!
Loved your first book, taught me stuff that far exceeded the purchase price, can’t wait for the next.

Bless you all!

Paolo Avezzano says:

on December 4, 2008 at 6:38 pm

May God bless both of you.

Krista Lee says:

on December 4, 2008 at 11:49 pm

OMG Joe! I am so glad to hear that she is okay!

Victor Aberdeen says:

on December 6, 2008 at 9:14 pm

The life that we have is all that we have and a parents life belongs to our children. So close to a different ending, like her photo, think your girl is destined for a long and distinguished life and a big crash is not getting in her way. Bet it made you feel a few years older, did me reading it and it was not even my daughter. Hope you all have a great holiday!

Thomas C says:

on December 9, 2008 at 11:03 am

Joe, I am so happy that she wasn’t more hurt. She and your family are in my prayers this holiday season. The story you wrote of your relationship with her was beautiful.

Hamada says:

on December 26, 2012 at 10:05 am

How lucky you are still having your garnny. Mine became 104 years old, born in 1891. She was a strong lady. Hopefully your garnny will feel better when the spring is on for real. Seems your garnny is a strong lady too living alone at her age. I wish her all the best.I got to know a story about my garnny after her death, and the story was not known in the family at all. One of my customers came to me and offered me a photo. She did wonder whether I knew the couple on the image. I saw at once it was my garnny (very young at age) but the man beside her I didn’t know. Well, it turned out to be her first fianc? and nobody ( in the family) ever knew she had been engaged before marrying my grandad. My customer was kind enough to give me the photograph, and now it’s amongst my treasures.Lovely Sunday to you.Laila

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