I Turn My Camera On

Today would have marked my father’s 80th Birthday. One of the few things I have kept of my father’s is his camera. It’s nothing special to anyone but me. Valued at $40 used on eBay. The Praktica is nothing more than a 35mm chunky camera.

The reason it’s special to me is that my father realized that when I was born- he did not own a camera. He went out and bought it within a couple of days of my birth. Partly because there was some uncertainty in my living beyond a short while. I had respiratory issues from birth. But that’s another story. This camera was purchased in 1976- the original receipts and warranty card are still in the carrying case.

I ended up using this camera in high school back in the mid-nineties for my photojournalism class. I took numerous black and white photos with it as well as colour pictures. Some of those ended up in the year book. Including my favorite which was a collage overlay of four photos together making up the front of the school. Not too easy to do when there was no preview screen and had to wait to get the images developed.

Now as our son enters grade 11- he has taken up photography as his art major. With it came a curiosity of my father’s old camera. In the first week of photo classes, he went through four rolls of film just taking black and white photos with it. Soon he will develop the pictures and see what he has created.

The one picture that my son wants to take with the camera is one I am impressed he thought of. It’s nothing outrageous, but rather one that brings the camera’s journey full circle. He plans to take some photos of my father’s tombstone- using the same camera that my father had bought to take pictures of me at birth. It’s quite convenient that the graveyard is merely steps away from the school grounds.

I’m not going to lie, at first I had a tough time allowing my son to use the camera. But he has been respectful and understanding of the sentimentality to me. He keeps it in the case and is very careful when handling it. As I said, there’s no monetary value to this item. But it means a lot to me as I wish my father could have seen the lovely grandkids that were produced. I would hope he would’ve been proud of me. But I didn’t become a good father to impress him. I became a good father to spite him.

Happy 80th Grampa. You missed an entire world, yet somehow you are still a big part of mine.

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