Tending ghosts

by Wolf Pascoe on February 6, 2011

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.
— Shakespeare, The Tempest

A

Nick's pirate ship

A

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

 

 

 

 

When Nick was three months old, I purchased a video camera. For the next several years, I used it to record him. First time in a high chair, first solid food, first birthday, and so on. This sort of thing:

A

A

A

My father took eight millimeter movies of our family. He used to show them using a projector he loved. He also showed a few cartoons. My sister still has the old reels in a trunk. I have no memory of it, except for the fleeting image of a beanstalk that, occasionally, I see in dreams. Nobody’s looked at any of it for years and years.

A

OBSESSED

I was pretty obsessive about getting Nick on tape. I had a vision of Nora and me at 80, in bed in an old folks home. We would be watching the videos of Nick that I’d recorded, the images on the screen floating above us. They would bring back the memories in pristine clarity.

Our memories compose us. Some would say they are us. I suppose that’s why I’m always reaching back, trying to connect the dots, tending ghosts. But it’s not just my own ghosts, the ones I loved. It’s all ghosts, any that I can get a purchase on. Apparently, we contain multitudes.

A

A

And, of course, this one:

[haiku url=http://justaddfather.com/feathery/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/rosebud.mp3]

A

REVELATION

My camera used mini-digital videotape cassettes. I transferred these to a DVD each time I finished one. I have fifteen now. Fifteen DVDs documenting the eight years of Nick’s life so far.

The footage is raw, un-edited. Nora and I occasionally look at one. Nick has never been interested in seeing himself.

Last week, out of the blue, he suddenly became fascinated with the idea of baby Nick. He and I watched the first two hours together. He was spellbound.

“What do you think of yourself at 12 weeks?” I said.

“It’s not me,” he said.

All parents know this to be true. Our children are continually disappearing, to be replaced by newer, older versions. They are histories of the future.

A

A

To see that baby boy again was bittersweet, but the real revelation on the screen was me.

A

Me as a new dad.

A

I watched myself on the video, watching Nick, listening to him. I was pretty good with him.

A

That was the revelation.

A

WORRY

I worry about my father’s film disintegrating. It’s going to be a project to rescue it. Here’s what e-How says:

Kodak created 8mm film for use by consumers in 1932, and its use peaked through the 1950s. Few people have an 8mm movie projector, and so watching an 8mm film today is difficult.

They go on to suggest purchasing a film editor.

Place the 8mm film into a reel on a hub to the left of the small screen. Turn on the small bulb that illuminates the screen. Thread the film. Turn the crank.

My dad had one of those editors. I used to watch him doing the same thing. Now it will be my turn. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Meanwhile, I found the beanstalk. Here it is, the movie I dream:

A

A

. . .

A

RELATED POST:

Camera Story

_____________________

A

You might also enjoy:

A

The internet time machine. Set a year and away you go. Bet you can’t stop at one.

A

What a dad blogger learned about himself from an old video. Shocking Truth

A

And this version of Jack and the Beanstalk (unfortunately, with an ad at the beginning.) Created by a genius, now all but forgotten:

A

A

_________

A

Any thoughts? Maybe you have a ghost story? Express yourself! I’d love you to add your comment below. I always respond here.

Want an alert to the next action-packed episode in the amazing adventures of Just Add Father? Scroll up to “Get E-mail updates” in the column to the right.

A
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

shelley February 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I have an 8mm projector if you need to borrow it.

Reply

Wolf Pascoe February 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm

It’s the miracle of the internet! Thanks, Shelley.

Reply

Raffi February 6, 2011 at 5:12 pm

As we grow in years we realize we are getting closer to the wall, the end. We also know our children will be whatever they will be. We know we will be facing the unknown of old age. We like to cling and revisit the past with its known memories (hopefully good ones)

Go Packers

Reply

Wolf Pascoe February 6, 2011 at 5:17 pm

The past is certain, but you can’t get there. You can get to the future, but it’s an unknown. Not a great deal either way. Guess that’s why Ram Dass said “be here now.”

Reply

Clark Kent's Lunchbox February 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm

I think you and I share the same affinity for nostalgia. I have all these videos of the kids, and I’ve been holding off on watching them. Not sure why, but I know they will make for one heck of a time capsule.

Reply

Wolf Pascoe February 8, 2011 at 4:43 pm

The question is, in what ways is nostalgia like kryptonite?

Reply

BigLittleWolf February 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Many years ago, before my mother passed away, but when I was well into my 30s, I was able to view a video tape she had made of her own parents and grandparents – from the 1920s and early 30s, best I recall.

This was before I had children of my own, but the wonderment of seeing the grandparents I knew and loved as “old people” while in their youth – it was extraordinary. At the time, it enhanced my connection to them, though they had passed away already. It is only in getting older and having children of my own that looking backward is tinged with the bittersweet quality of what is past, and how quickly it seems to go. And also, just how important those ghosts are to us. The good ones, and those with a more challenging legacy.

Still, I have drawers full of videos of my own children while babies. Someday, they may take pleasure in seeing themselves so young, their parents so young, and see the connections from generation to generation.

Lovely post.

Reply

Wolf Pascoe February 9, 2011 at 12:06 am

I love looking at photographs of my grandparents when they were young. So beautiful they were. More so because I never knew them.

Reply

Vicki February 8, 2011 at 10:21 pm

We are such interesting creatures. This post touched me as it connected me with the painful pleasure of love which includes loss and the way we try to have and to hold. It reminds me of the surprise I get whenever I first greet my now 31 year old son. I somehow never get used to looking up. I have to let go of his child image every time.

Reply

Wolf Pascoe February 9, 2011 at 12:01 am

However far I have to look up, I want to be here when Nick’s 31.

Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: