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.

Grad 2020

Our oldest graduates from high school this year. Last week was supposed to be her graduation ceremony and tonight was meant to be her Grad Dinner and Dance. But alas, 2020 had other plans.

So tonight, we tried to make her Graduation something special. Everyone got dressed up and we headed out.

A short drive away, the outdoor mall had set up a backdrop that we took full advantage of. Our daughter willingly got up on the stage and had some photos taken with each of the members of the family in front of a Grad 2020 sign.

Afterwards we picked up some sushi from our favorite restaurant and brought it home. Our daughter ate a Sushi Boat to herself- A goal she tried to do a few years ago on her birthday. She succeed tonight! After dinner, she received some gifts from us and ice cream cake.

Then we streamed her graduation ceremony that was filmed a month ago. It was filmed with social distancing in place and edited together. Before we watched it on our big screen, we talked about all the years of school she has been through.

She made some memories over the years, as well as some great friends. I’m sad she didn’t have the same graduation ceremonies as those who came before her. As unfortunate as that may be, Grad 2020 will still be memorable in its own unique way.

This may have been said numerous times by numerous people, but it bears repeating:

To all those high schoolers who have had to endure similar nights like ours- you successes over the years should not be diminished by the fact that the world is struggling through a pandemic. Your resilience to overcome diversity, pandemics, or any number of worldwide challenges is proof that you are the future. A future that will bring us all closer together.

Congratulations Class of 2020!

First Sunrise of Grade 12

Our oldest daughter is beginning her final year of high school today. As tradition with The Langley Fine Arts School, the Grade 12’s all got together nearby the school and watched the First Sunrise of Their Grade 12 Year.

My daughter came home about an hour afterwards with a big grin on her face and a pep in her step. She was happy to see all of her classmates and friends again. She told me that people shared stories of their travels and summer experiences. It sounded like everyone was hyper-energized this morning. I think they are all looking forward to the upcoming year.

And as with tradition, on the last “official” day of Grade 12- the students will get together and watch the Last Sunset of Their Grade 12 Year.

I wish them all the best for this final high school year! And may they enjoy the experiences that come with their friendships formed throughout these past few years.

Ashland- Remember Me?

I love driving down the West of Coast of North America. Today we began our drive from Vancouver down through Washington State and Oregon. Since we weren’t bringing our children, we took a Pop Vinyl belonging to each of them and we are photographing them along the way.  It’s a fun way to keep the kids on our minds.  

Go away rain!

 There is something beautiful about the I-5 as the scenery changes. Farm land, cities, forest, desert, mountains, more cities… All of it within 24 hours of driving. Driving through Washington State- it was a downpour. At least the traffic was light. As soon as we crossed into Portland Oregon, the rain stopped. As if an invisible barrier along the river prevented the clouds from moving from State to State. It was too good to last. The rain storm found us in the mountains as we drove towards Ashland, Oregon.

We made it to our first hotel with only 2 stops for gas and 1 stop for In-N-Out Burger. This time we tried “Animal Style” cheeseburgers.  Pretty gosh darn tasty, but I still prefer the double cheeseburger.

Looking down on me.

We checked into our hotel and we were told the hot tub is open and so was the pool, but the pool wasn’t heated.  I still chose to enjoy both in the rain. 

The strangest thing though. The hotel we are staying at was the same hotel from 1993 that my school stayed at for the Shakespeare Festival. The same trip that a classmate had a fake id and we bought 2 dozen beers and snuck them into the hotel room.  That same trip that I smoked my first cigarettes- plural. Because smoking Marlboros and Kools was the way to get started smoking.  I was a nerd with a group of cool kids that trip.  My new friends were all throwing up and ended up with nasty hangovers.  I felt alive. 

That trip, the bus driver let me practice driving in the parking lot.  Back and forth.  Pretty cool for the nerdy dork.  In fact my new friends were impressed that the driver let me. Before the bus ride home I had bought a Disney video- The Fox and The Hound.  The bus had a vcr, and suddenly every girl on the bus loved me.  I had suddenly become a cool kid, not the outcast loser.

Look out.

Yes!  I shattered the idea of who people thought I was. The exhilaration of getting away with being sixteen and being drunk on a school trip. I was a goody two shoes at the time. No one would suspect me. 
I worry my kids may turn out like me at some point.  All the mistakes and craziness. But that’s how you learn.  That’s how you grow.