As I pack up my dad’s projectors for a friend to pick-up, I can remember watching his movies with him. The projector had a distinctive smell, like brand new Styrofoam, industrial but not unpleasant. Dry erase markers are the closest thing I can come up with.
As the projector would warm with the lamp the whole room would take on the smell. Smelling it as I lowered it into the box put be back just for a moment in the family room of our house on Midvale. He would use a TV tray, yet another obsolete object, to put the projector at a height that was appropriate for the projector screen.
I know myself, and as much as I want to hang on to the currently non-functional projector, I know it will go into the corner of the basement where I will not confront it again until we move out of this house. Upon every move I will be confronted with its lack of use since I last laid eyes on it, and I will tell myself it will be different this time, but it won’t.
But I have the movies. I’m taking the first lot to get digitized this week. I have some trepidation in confronting what’s on those movies. I teared up just looking at my dad’s scrawled descriptions on the reels. I haven’t heard my grandpa’s voice in 24 years. I can’t conjure what he sounded like. He’s there. He’ll be speaking to me from the late 70’s and early 80’s.
And then there’s my dad. He’s there too. He’s the man who I adored and admired as though he was Superman. He’s the man uncomplicated to my 5 year old eye, before we grew older and I saw him whole, weaknesses and strengths.
His voice is not yet broken by his lengthy stay in the ICU. He hasn’t yet soaked in years of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. It’s before I learned to fear his rejection.
I think it was relatively easy to let go of sick dad. He wasn’t living in the way he wished, and seeing him in that state was profoundly painful. But I’ve been mourning and still mourn the dad in those videos even today. I haven’t seen that dad, the uncomplicated one, in so, so long. I feel certain seeing that dad will bring just as much grief as he will joy.
But even so. I have to see him. This is what living fully really is. It’s laughing with tears streaming down your face with a heart full of gratitude.
I miss you, dad. I know you did your best, and I am so thankful, even for the hard times.