An Audience of One: My Dad


The daily writing prompt a few days ago: to write a post for someone I wish was reading my blog.

It feels a bit weird writing you in English, and I don’t think I can call you Dad instead of Pappie, but here goes.

It’s sixteen years ago today that you died and not a day goes by that I don’t think of you. You had just bought a home computer and were about to get connected to the Internet.

It would’ve been a wonderful way for us to be in touch on a regular basis. We could email or message each other and send photos back and forth. You would’ve been flooding my Facebook page with jokes and Youtube videos of the best and funniest commercials out there right now. I know you would’ve loved the Air France commercial with the ballet dancers! (Allemachtig, wat prachtig!)

You would’ve loved all this new technology in general.

Every time I take a photo with my digital camera and flip out the card, stick it in my computer and upload the photo, I think of you.

I still see you at the dining room table with all your slide-framing equipment. First you placed a strip of film on the light box, to see which photos worked out to your satisfaction. Of course most of them were great, because buying and then developing 36-exposure film was expensive. You took your photos selectively.

Once you determined if any of the photos could be thrown out, you cut the remaining slides off the developed strips, painstakingly airbrushed the dust off one side of a glass frame and one slide, carefully placed the slide in the first half of the frame, making sure it was straight, airbrushed the dust off the other half of the glass frame and again off the slide for good measure, and then clicked the whole thing together.

Each finished, framed slide was placed in a slide tray, only to be seen by your immediate family every few years, on a roll-out screen in the darkened living room. That’s how far your young man’s dream of becoming a professional photographer ever got.

Every time I pull up Photoshop and with one click improve a somewhat washed-out photo, I think of your amazement if you’d be seeing that for the first time. Every time I upload yellowed slides and then Photoshop them to bring back the colors, I think of you. Every time I make little imperfections go away with the click of a button, I think of you.

But I especially think of you while blogging. You would absolutely have loved this. In fact, I’m pretty sure that, aside from going for long walks and travels with your camera around your neck, you would’ve been at your computer, blogging away.

Because you could finally share all those thousands upon thousands of photos with the world. You wouldn’t have had to fear rejection. You could just have a photo blog, and believe me, you would have tons of followers in no time. The feedback you’d get would finally confirm what I’ve always told you: your work was phenomenal!

You always had so much more patience than I do, so you would have lovingly airbrushed the dust off each slide before placing it on the scanner. Unlike me–I was in too much of a hurry to clean mine first, so I had to go back and clean all the dust off the British clouds in Photoshop.

One day I hope to get all your slides, and then I will start a memorial blog for you. It’s about time that others see that series you did on the Thai Buddhist monk fireworks funeral pyre, just to name one. And I will airbrush each and every one before scanning it, I promise.

I miss you, Pap.
Barbara

10 responses to “An Audience of One: My Dad

  1. What a wonderful letter to your dad! I can’t wait to see his photos–I think it’s a great idea and I hope you do it. My dad was infamous for the family slide shows he did. I wonder if my mom still has all those slide-filled carousels. I just might copy your idea. My father died when I was ten, at the age I am now.

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  2. I can remember when in the BDA school we went to Amsterdam and you I think went to see him and would have some food at McD’s, sounded so great, my father never would have gone there, although I still love to see his old photo’s… So sad you had to miss your pap so early in life..

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  3. What a wonderful post, Barbara. Your dad sitting on the fence smoking a pipe looks like my dad did at that age.

    My dad also enjoyed photography and had his own dark room . . . and lots of slide carousels of trips and kids and grandkids. And he loved technology.

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  4. Thanks for sharing your lovely memories of your dad. I’m sorry you lost him so early. You’ve reminded me how lucky I am to still have mine though he lives 800 miles away. I think I’ll write to him today. I look forward to seeing your father’s photos. When you start that memorial blog, I’ll be the first to follow.

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