debbie millman

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Days With My Father

Photograph by Phillip Toledano
Photograph by Phillip Toledano, from his amazing portfolio titled "Days With My Father"

Last month, two days after my little brother got married, my father went into the hospital for triple-bypass surgery. It was the first time my father has ever gotten "sick" in my entire life. I spent a week with him in the hospital in Albany and another week with him afterward helping out at home, and now I am visiting with him every weekend up in the Catskills, where he lives.

My Dad and I had a complicated relationship for many years; it is only in the last decade that we have realized that we are exactly alike and therefore we should be a bit gentler with each other. When I am with him, I often feel that I am still a little kid, and that can be difficult, but as we both get older, I don't mind as much.

The most difficult part of this whole experience was seeing how frustrated my father was not being in control. Not taking care of everything (and everyone), and not being able to do exactly what he wanted, exactly the way he wanted to. (Sound familiar?) It was hard seeing him struggle to stand up, struggle to walk, struggle to breathe. He is getting better every day, but it has been slow and arduous and emotionally challenging for all of us. But I knew he was feeling better when we discovered that he stashed a slew of Kit-Kat bars for secret snacking.

I came across this incredible website today via Design Observer. It is a photography journal by Phillip Toledano recording the last days of his 98-year-old father. It is beautiful, it is heartbreaking, and it is hitting me a little too close to home on this beautiful morning in New York City.


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Location: new york city, United States

Debbie Millman has worked in the design business for over 25 years. She is President of the design division at Sterling Brands. She has been there for nearly 15 years and in that time she has worked on the redesign of global brands for Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Campbell’s, Colgate, Nestle and Hasbro. Prior to Sterling, she was a Senior Vice President at Interbrand and a Marketing Director at Frankfurt Balkind. Debbie is President of the AIGA, the largest professional association for design. She is a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at and Brand New and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 2005, she began hosting the first weekly radio talk show about design on the Internet. The show is titled “Design Matters with Debbie Millman” and it is now featured on In addition to “Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design,” (HOW Books, 2009, she is the author of "How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer" (Allworth Press, 2007) and “The Essential Principles of Graphic Design” (Rotovision, 2008).

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