From “Blur: A Memoir,” an ongoing and random series of stories, dreams, and memories from my life as a photographer. This is #3 in a continuing series from “Tesåo,” about my wife Tereza and our relationship. A recurring theme in any photographer’s life is how to maintain some semblance of family life, or to even keep friends.

©2009 Doug Menuez

©2009 Doug Menuez

We were about to leave Sausalito for Hawaii on an assignment when Tereza came down with a serious fever. I took her to the doctor right away and he became very concerned, forbade her to travel and did some tests. I went anyway as we needed the money but I hated to leave her like that.

The next day I called to see if Tereza was well enough to join me. She said the doctor told her she had severe thyroiditis and would have died of shock within twenty-four hours if she had gone with me undiagnosed. A really long week passed until I was able to finish my shoot and get home. She was feeling better and we went to see the specialist our doctor had arranged. A pill, each day, would regulate her thyroid and keep her well.

Forty-five days later, Tereza tested positive. She was pregnant. Tereza had never been able to have children in her previous marriages and was told in Brazil she never would, so birth control was not in our picture. It turned out the reason was related less to my Basque heritage and more to the new thyroid medication, which the specialist knew would make make her fertile but, um, forgot to tell us.

I was shooting a movie star in Aspen when I got called to the phone by the star’s husband, also a movie star, who happened to be my favorite TV actor when I was a kid. He played a cynical, daring thief, my perfect role model. Tereza was calling with the good but shocking and completely unexpected news. That night at dinner after the shoot I was in a dream-shock state. The star’s husband, still handsome and flashing his trademark grin, asked me why I thought I was the father since I travel so much, and, he added, he was in Sausalito a lot. The movie star kicked him under the table which snapped me out of my shock. I began making plans. Our lives were changed, blessed to be sure, but I had to grow up quick and figure out how to be a father. Something I was sure I would never be, nor be any good at.

Sausalito, 1987.

“Tesão” is from our publication URGE and can be purchased through my web site: Then select:  Information > Store > Limited Edition Books > URGE/Tesão

July 2009
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