Gray Matters - Story of my life
Belfast — Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time going through some of my family’s old home movies, which has been an interesting experience to say the least.
I’ve made it my mission to convert all of the videos, which are all on VHS tape (nothing like dating yourself!), over to DVDs for a couple of reasons. One, so my son and all of my nieces and nephews can enjoy them, and also to make sure they remain in viewable shape for years to come.
So I got started on this fairly monumental task, initially thinking about how time consuming it was going to be to break each multiple-hour-long tape down into chapters by subject matter, figure out the chronological order of each tape, blah, blah, blah… So, I guess it’s fair to say I found this job to be a bit overwhelming.
Then I put in the first tape and started watching it. Surprisingly, I was instantly glued to the tube as I watched 11-year-old self and my then nine-year-old brother compete for the attention of the camera man (our dad). We were both pretty obnoxious, but clearly, we thought we were so cool. And there, my friends, is the entertainment.
My folks, who were just a little older than I am now in many of these movies, they thought they were pretty cool too. The marked difference being they really were, and that was evidenced in each memory I watched.
I saw the younger version of my dad literally running on ice skates in a quite successful effort to beat another relative in a race across the local pond with a big goofy grin on his bearded face the whole time. Then there was the time my cousin Chris did a rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire” in the voice of Elmer Fudd. I laughed until my face hurt, and the best part is, I remember everything about that day — we were going to visit my cousin Michelle. Another time, my father decided to take my mom on a (mis)guided tour of one of the hydro power plants all along Swan Lake Avenue.
“Hi there, this is a hydro power plant,” my father said in his best narrator voice. “Come on in and I’ll show you how it works!”
And with that he bounded through the door of the plant, with my mom behind him yelling my father’s name.
“Sheldon, what does this red light on the camera mean? Sheldon!” It was rather loud in there, which made it necessary for her to yell. Also funny.
As I watched more movies, I was reminded of the time during a Little League game when the pitcher sent me walking to first, after which I proceeded to steal the remaining bases for a home-run in a single play. I remembered the sting on my batter’s glove when I got back to the dugout and exchanged a hearty high-five with my teammate Scotty Gallant. Mom captured that moment perfectly (thanks, Mom).
The best part? I think it was later on in the same tape in which my father gave the tour of the power plant. Apparently we were taping at a neighboring power plant a few months later, at the end of which my 11-year-old self announced from behind the camera, in her best narrator voice…
“Hi there, this is a hydro power plant! We just went inside and saw how it works!”
Well, I guess Dad can’t say I never listened to him. Too funny.
Through this journey I’ve seen the younger faces of my oldest friends, and remembered some of those loved ones who are no longer with us (sniff). I was reminded of why I chose the people I did to be my lifelong friends and why my family remains close now, more than two decades and a generation later.
I figure if you can have your life flash before your eyes and it’s not because you’re dying, well, that’s pretty sweet. And with memories like these, I’ve got to say it’s been a pretty good show — even if I already know how the story goes.