I recently spent a few hours watching old home movies as I copied them to DVD. My dad created this visual family history over many years.
Now it is my turn to preserve it.
His cinematic instincts were not exactly Spielbergian. His go-to directorial command was, “Walk toward the camera and wave!” And each winter, he seemed strangely compelled to provide documentary evidence that yes, it still snows in Pennsylvania. Perhaps if global warming continues, decades after the polar caps have melted and the last snowflake has fallen, Dad’s films will be Smithsonian material. But when we were kids, these annual pans of the snowy landscape induced giggles and rolled eyes.
Dad filmed Christmas morning each year with a set of Klieg lights brighter than the sun. My sister and I, in our footie pajamas, deftly opened our presents by feel with eyes squinted against the glare.
Now that he is gone from this Earth, I still smile as I watch every winter scene, wedding and family reunion. Here is the family at Coney Island Cincinnati, with Dad driving me on the Autopia because I was too small to ride by myself. Hard to tell from the gleeful laughter which of us was the kid – at that moment, we both were.
In Dad’s final years, Parkinson’s took his mobility and eventually his voice. I wonder if in those long, silent, bed-ridden days his mind replayed the story of our childhood as he had filmed it. I hope for his sake that he remembered every sunny day in the park and every smile he brought to our faces.
Dad, if you were filming me now, I wouldn’t just walk to the camera and wave. I would run to the cameraman and wrap him in a hug. Thanks for this trove of memories captured on Super 8. It may not win any awards, but the cast will treasure it forever.