Archive for memories

My Father’s Voice

Posted in Manly Ways, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 10, 2010 by davegerry

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I heard my father’s voice the other day..for the first time in 16 years. My father died in the fall of 1994. He died in his sleep, just the way everyone says you’re supposed to go. He had a list beside his bed of the things he intended to do the next day. He just didn’t wake up.

A few days before he died he had phoned me and left a message and I didn’t get back to him in time. I also, somehow, erased the message. I had no other record of his voice…no tape recordings, no film, no video. And so, with each year that passed since his passing, I forced myself to remember what he sounded like. I thought I still knew but I really couldn’t be positive without some reference. Sometimes I thought that I could summon up the cadence and tenor of his speech by staring for a while at an old photograph. Despite those efforts, I felt that much of him had inevitably slipped away.

Then a couple of days ago I put a disc into my computer featuring some raw television footage of my childhood home. I had done a News series ( coincidentally, just before my father died) on revisiting your roots and one of those pieces was a walk through my favorite family house…the one where I think I spent the best years of my life. It was a bit of a breathtaker, frankly. I had loved the house and the deeply wooded area of the old neighbourhood. The current owners very graciously allowed me and a cameraman to spend an hour by ourselves in there. Suddenly I was awash in memory. There was the glassed-in den where we put up all the Christmas trees. There was the long, dusty basement where we used to ride our bikes. And there was my parent’s bedroom at the end of a long, long hallway…the place my mother had used as a final sanctuary..and where she had died from cancer at the tender age of 44. I didn’t have any tangible record of my mother’s voice either.

So I stood there with tears in my eyes while we tried to produce a little television. It just so happened that while the cameraman was rolling on an exterior shot of the home, my sister (standing maybe 20 metres away) got a call on her cellphone. It was my dad wondering if we were going to be able to come over for lunch….and the moment my sister took the call, the radio receiver on the back of the television video camera picked up the signal. So the call was accidentally captured. In a few months my father would be gone but I couldn’t know that. And I didn’t know that a record of who he was would sit in a dusty corner of my home office for 16 years. It startled me. It was like listening to a ghost. It was just a snippet of small talk but it could not have had bigger meaning.

The older I get the more I miss the old man but I think that all of those years trying to recall his voice must have payed off. When I heard him once again he sounded exactly as I remembered.


The Times of your Life

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 18, 2009 by davegerry
The photo drawer

The photo drawer

Starting a blog like this will force you to get cosy with your camera. The ability to capture images today is so omnipresent, employing all manner of hand held devices,  that nothing happens anywhere in the world without someone capturing a still picture or some video.

That’s good news for information junkies, but bad news , as we’ve seen, for someone like Michael Richards and, possibly, Bigfoot.

Keeping the blog colourful and visually stimulating can also send you spelunking deep into your photo drawer.

My photo drawer is in the bottom of a massive wooden wardrobe and is a hernia waiting to happen. If there’s a fire in my home the first thing I will drag out of the house (after Angie) will be this drawer. I have already planned the escape route. The memories in there, unlike everything else under my roof, are irreplaceable.

Nothing is catalogued or organized in my photo drawer. I’ve never been very good with building albums or burning photos to a disc. So it’s a complete grab bag of envelopes and boxes .

It is impossible for me to open this drawer to search for a single image and not wind up blowing at least an hour or two looking at everything else.

If I dig deep enough through the layers I can find some tiny, black and white snapshots I took as a kid with my Polaroid Swinger camera. Remember the Swinger? Man, you were some groovy cat if you had a Swinger! Try as you might, it’s impossible to explain the thrill of the early Polaroid experience to anyone under the age of 30.

You’ll get a blank stare and a comment like, ‘You mean you had to wait sixty seconds just to see the picture?”.

A fine set of instant snapshots taken at Expo '67 when I was a fourteen year old 'Swinger'.

A fine set of instant snapshots taken at Expo '67 in Montreal. I was a fourteen year old 'Swinger'.

In 1975 the Kodak company hit the television airwaves with an impossibly sentimental advertising campaign featuring Canada’s own Paul Anka singing a jingle called ‘The Times of Your Life‘. This was so popular that it eventually wound up as  a full fledged song on an album .I still think it was one of the most effective pairings of music and message I’ve ever seen. I admit to getting all misty and verklempt every time it aired.

But this photo drawer does represent the times of my life. Faces stare out from some of the oldest Gerry family photos and I have no idea who they are. Once the last member of the previous generation dies there is no one left to confirm some the identities. Get your snapshots to your grandparents now and have them write the names that belong to those faces on the back.

There are lots of web based companies that will take your photos and allow you to craft them into a book. You create an account, download your material, organize it with the use of their templates and fonts and when you finally give the go ahead they will print you a book and ship it to your door. I think it’s a great idea. Do it for yourself. Better yet, do it for your kids. This may be the year you put the times of your life in order.