I felt this surge of excitement in my chest.
I was sitting on the basement floor of my sister’s house in Keswick. I came into town to help her move into her new condo and I was surrounded by boxes of letters and photographs and memorabilia; I was surrounded by memories.
I grabbed a box in her storage area that was quite hidden in the corner and brought it into the main area of the basement. Envelopes of old negatives and photographs were piled into it. I reached in and three Super 8 boxes found themselves into my hand:
I recognized my cousin Horace’s handwriting right away. From the titles of each, it seemed to focus on certain points in my life. Of course that wasn’t the reason why I was feeling this excitement.
It was the idea of actually seeing my father, moving.
All my life he’s been a photograph, an unreachable thing. But should everything be in tact on these films, I would actually see him alive and breathing and (in a weird way) confirm the idea that he did exist.
The void of not having my father around has always been something that I’ve carried. When Lea was born, a lot of those feelings became less intense but it still kind of lingers. It’s like this wave of never truly knowing him that comes in and out of my life.
But this. This could potentially be a bit of a puzzle piece waiting to be put in place.
I got home, found out that there was a place 5 minutes away that did do DVD transferring for Super 8. When I went to the photo store, I told him that I wasn’t sure whether the images were in tact. He told me that where Super 8 is concerned, as long as the film itself wasn’t exposed to harmful conditions, it would stay. The process would take about 3 weeks to complete.
So I set about my anxious waiting and wondering.
April 17, 2017, I got the call saying that the DVD was ready. I rushed to pick up the disc and came home. Watched it with Lea and Mara. There was no audio, but I was transfixed by the images. Of me, of my siblings, of my mother and father, of the clothes, of everything. You could feel love watching it, you could feel the sense of family and closeness. As I watching the footage, it struck me that I had pictures from the events captured. So my mind started turning in that I wanted to incorporate this footage along with the pictures I had.
When the footage went to black in the end, I found myself wishing I could dive into the screen and remain in that time capsule, to be present and watch everyone interact with each other still. That maybe if I could get in there, time wouldn’t go forward.
I was struck by my mother’s open face and how effortlessly she smiled. She still smiles these days, but now I can really see how life’s weight can change that.
I was also struck by how much younger I truly am compared to my grown siblings, but also how with age that gap closes in a bit.
I was struck by how the film captures my parents, as newcomers to Canada, still entrenched in their roots and their traditions. Granted, the footage is shot about 10 years into their life in Canada, but you can see that they were very connected with who they were and where they came from. And also you can see their connection to others who also were going through (or had gone through) the same experience of being a newcomer to Canada.
That close-knit connection to ancestral roots, I found, didn’t necessarily continue on after my father’s passing. I know that I for sure felt a bit of that disassociation growing up….
More than anything though, I’m struck by time. And that merely a year after my birthday footage part, my Dad wouldn’t be there anymore.
Shortly after I found the boxes, I kept articulating to a friend of my sister’s about how funny it was that I had found these after all this time. And without missing a beat, she replied “Maybe your Dad was the one who allowed you to find them now – because you were ready to see them.”
I’m proud that I was able to sew this together, and in turn, bring it into the present. Because even though this footage is from over 40 years ago now, its contents remain part of the story that is being told today.